America's Invisible Children
A few weeks ago, a wave swept the nation as over 80 million people watched The Invisible Children video on YouTube. It tells the story of Joseph Kony, an African rebel leader who mutilated and enslaved thousands of children during the past 25 years. I’ll leave the criticism of this effort to stop atrocities to others; to me, Jason Russell made a promise to do something about the silent voices of children, and he kept it. Bob Goff, Founder of Restore International, whose lecture I attended the other night, too, is daring and audacious in combating violence and injustices committed against children, including forced prostitution and slave labor. And then there’s my all-time hero, the everyday, yet extraordinary, woman who simply refused to sit in the back of the bus: Rosa Parks.
The courage of these and other people inspires me to spend my days standing up for children who are invisible – children whose best interests are often ignored and lives scarred by divorce. But their courage also gives me pause. I am a big proponent of marriage education, marriage counseling, legislative reform, and every other tool available to help repair marriages. I wonder, though, if there might be a missing component. Like perspective?
According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 1.4 billion people live under the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Billions more barely cross it. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that 925 million children will suffer from chronic hunger this year; every six seconds a child dies from hunger-related causes. Billions of people suffer each day in a variety of other ways, too, both here and abroad.
Problems within a marriage are very real to those experiencing them; however, might perspective be another tool to help repair “irreconcilable differences?” To the spouse who cheats on his or her partner, I would ask: Is what’s “missing” in your marriage so monumental compared with people in our world who don’t even have a roof over their head or food in their body? To the spouse who ends a marriage because they aren’t happy or fulfilled, I would say: Have you seriously thought about the suffering that divorce will create for your family and the billions of people in this world who would give anything to have a fraction of what you do?
Perhaps spouses considering divorce should spend time with those less fortunate first, before ending their relationship. I don’t mean volunteer somewhere for a few hours. I mean go be with those who only dream of having what is about to be terminated. Spend time with children suffering and consider the suffering about to befall to your own children. Go to the other side of the world or to the other side of your county. If you can find money for divorce lawyers, wouldn’t it make sense to spend your money on this instead?
During Bob Goff’s jaw dropping and inspiring presentation the other night, a simple innocuous line caught my attention. He said his marriage and his family were enhanced by his devotion to his cause.
Pause for a moment and realize by the time you go to sleep tonight more sons and daughters of divorce will have died from suicide today, cut themselves, downed a six pack. More daughters of divorce will have become sexually active at a young age; more sons of divorce will have been in fights rather than reading books. Those who fare better will be sad and depressed and carrying their belongings back and forth between households, dealing with a myriad number of problems they will carry into adulthood.
Approximately 3,000 kids, some of whom might be your own kids, will become children of divorce tomorrow and each and every day thereafter unless and until we treat this manmade disaster with the same sense of urgency with which we treat natural disasters. The best way just might be with perspective gained from treating one problem by helping to solve another. Doesn’t true perspective come from comparing yourself with those less fortunate? And there are always many more of those.
If your kids have an intact family, and you and your spouse, with a heart of love, continuously work on resolving whatever problems come your way, don’t you and your family truly have everything?