What is the difference between "doing to" a child and "doing for" a
child? When it comes to giving a child love and affection,
can we afford to defer it until we are "ready" to give it? Or,
does the child make decisions about whether he or she is loved or
unloved second-by-second? Find out whether we leave the
door open or shut to the Beast of Terror in our madding rush to live
January 25, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 865
What We Do To The Children, We Do To God
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Jan. 25, 2004 -- The minister's
words rang clearly in my ears, as though his tongue was the clangor
for the Bell of Vigilance, resounding a message for all the world to
take heed: "What we do to the children, we do to God."
Village community school (P.S. 169) auditorium was the site for a
little league award's ceremony
My wife and I and
our three grandchildren and their parents were at an East Village
school auditorium filled with mostly community Puerto Rican families
enjoying a festive evening of awards from last summer's little league
Our family had helped coach a
pee-wee team and we won our league's championship.
At the level we were playing, any ball hit in fair territory usually
ended up as a home run, so it wasn't about the skill of our coaching
that brought us tribute, but rather than lack of coordination among
the five to seven year olds learning that watching the ball was more
important than watching the tugboats chugging up the East River that
flows next to the pock-marked ball fields where we play.
Rodriguez, president of the Felix Millan Little League since 1977
of the Felix Millan Little League, Manny Rodriquez, put on a
spectacular ceremony for all of the kids, coaches and parents.
It included singing from the Harlem Choir, ethnic dances by young
girls from Puerto Rico and Mexico, and a glorious rendition of our
America's and Puerto Rico's national anthems sung by a young woman
with a Voice equal to any singer opening a ball game on national
Manny had asked his minister to open
the ceremonies with a prayer. The minister offered his
thanks to all the parents and the league and during the prayer made
the statement: "What we do to the children, we do to God."
blessed the community with the words "What we do to the children,
we do to God"
The words were
a home run for me.
As the awards were being passed out, and
our grandchildren received huge, glittering pedestals of marble and
gold tribute for being on the victorious team, I thought about what
the cleric had said: "What we do to the children, we do to
Parents can do many things to children.
They can do harm or good. They
can show love or its absence. They can care more for them
than they do themselves or the reverse.
I thought about the minister's carefully
crafted choice of his words: "Do to the child" versus "do for
The word "to" is an action word, suggesting
an immediate impact. Doing "for" a child involves
something in the future, some residual benefit to be uncovered and
discovered at some point beyond the "here and now."
Children live in the "now" not the
"future." Their need for "love" and "affection" and
"concern" is pressed between the ticks and tocks of a second hand on a
clock. Their thirst to be loved and cared for is fragile,
precious. Neglect and oversight by a parent or guardian can
create dark halls and ominous clouds of rejection and despair in a
mind formulating his or her self image and self worth second by
second, minute by minute.
an innate thirst for love
who is "too busy" to kneel down and give a child a hug, or to read a
child a bedtime story, or to crawl into the mind of the child's vivid
and explorative imagination to insure that the Beast of Terror hasn't
set his hooks in the child's soul, leaves the child vulnerable,
exposed and alone within himself or herself.
"Doing to" was a good choice of words for
Sentinels of Vigilance to emboss in their minds, for it leaves little
wiggle room for the idea that a child's needs can be put on warm in
the oven of affection, and when the time is comfortable for the parent
or guardian, to pull it out and pay it heed.
Of course, there are the more abusive and
brutal acts done "to a child." These include sharp tongues
slicing at a child's worth, statements such as "don't bother me," or
"leave me alone," or "you're stupid," or "you'll amount to nothing,"
or "I wish you weren't born." Then there is the violence
done unto a child, the physical Terrorism of hitting the child
angrily, or sexual abuse, or deprivation of food.
What we do "to a child" leaves either scars
or blossoms on his or her soul. Inflicting Fear,
Intimidation or Complacency upon a child opens the door to the Beast
of Terror's control over the innocent. Providing a
child with Courage, Conviction and taking Right Actions that benefit
the child's future and all children's futures, drives the Beast away
and helps the child learn to become his or her own Sentinel of
Vigilance, the child learns to defend himself or herself in the
many battles that he or she faces over life's evolution between doing
the "right" or "wrong" thing, or thinking the "right" or "wrong"
Then there was the second part of the
prayer: "What we do to the child, we do to God."
What if God
was the sum of all the children of the world?
What if God represented not some beaded figure high in the heavens
with a long flowing robe and staff that shot bolts of lightening, but
rather God was the sum of all the children of the world?
In this case, what we did to the children
in our lives, we did to all the children of all time. If
we were cruel either physically or emotionally to our own child, were
we then cruel to all children of all times?
If we were Complacent about parenting on the
basis we were "too busy" to show the love and affection at the moment,
and elected to offer such love and care at some future time, but never
got around to it, would the child learn from us how to defray
affection, how to build a shell around himself or herself equal to the
one we had created so that his or her children would not be able to
penetrate it? Would we be creating a legacy of
isolation between our innermost selves and our children that would
freeze the chance of future generations from breaking through?
"Doing to a child is doing to God!"
I thought about the depth of that
responsibility. I wondered how many parents looked
at their children as the future of all children, or, as a symbol of
God. How many parents would turn to God if He or She
were standing next to them asking for a hug and tell God: "I'm
too busy to hug you, leave me alone."
If God bounded in the door from school and
wanted to talk about His or Her day, how many people would tell God to
go watch television instead?
How many people would reach out and twist
God's arm, or threaten God with violence if He or She didn't do what
they were told? How many people would not read God a
bedtime story or sit with God on the floor and share their most
"What we do to a child, we do to God!"
It was a fascinating statement, one that
reminds me that the Principles of Vigilance have a measuring stick
similar in nature to that statement. The third
Principle asks all Parents of Vigilance to teach a child to overcome
Complacency by taking Right Actions that benefit the Children's
In other words, don't wait to love and care
for the child. That time may never come.
And, when you love and care for a child,
you are loving and caring for all the children.
But, there is one other factor critical to
the execution of the Principles of Vigilance. And that is the
benefit they offer.
It takes great
effort to move from "selfishness" to "selflessness"
all of us is the desire to be selfish. We are all
consumed by a hunger to do what we "want" and "need" to do for
ourselves. It takes great effort to overcome the idea of
"selfishness" for that of "selflessness."
Caring for the Emotional safety and
security of a child means we must put our self to the side and elevate
the child above our own needs and desires. To achieve this
we must see the threat and danger if we do not.
That threat and danger is that the Beast of
Terror's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will fill the voids we
left when we didn't apply their antidotes, Courage, Conviction and
Right Actions for future generations.
A Sentinel of Vigilance must be able to see
the reason for "selflessness" over "selfishness" as being the act of
Vigilance, the act of protecting the child from the lurking harms of
opinions based on what has been done "to" them
Those harms include
the sense of "less," that sense a child has that he or she is
"abandoned" because they are "less than" they could be in the eyes of
the child's parents. The children form such opinions
based on what has been done "to" them, not "for" them.
A parent, for example, cannot bring a child
a nice shiny toy wrapped in a nice package and expect that present to
compensate for a hug, or the emotional intimacy a child seeks to
reassure himself or herself one is safe and secure.
We cannot do things "for" children. We can only do things
And to be motivated to act, we must see the
urgency. If we see the Beast of Terror stalking our
children, we are much more apt to put our selfishness to the side and
stand between the Beast and our child to protect it.
Vigilance must take a daily vow to protect the child in the "now"
That is why a Sentinel or
Parent of Vigilance must take a daily vow to protect the child in the
"now." The Pledge of Vigilance reminds us that the
Beast is always there. He is doing pushups waiting to act when
But if we remind ourselves: "What we do to
a child, we do to God," we won't forget our duty and responsibility.
We will not defer our actions to fight Fear with Courage, or shun
Intimidation with Conviction, or convert Complacency with Right
Actions that benefit future generations.
"Do to your child!" Take the Pledge
of Vigilance today and live by its creed.
Jan 23--Meliorating Vigilance: The Goal For All