11:40 PM, EST:
I thought about this all day. And I went back and took a second look at that video of the child, demonstrating obscenities. And then I reread the entire report once again. And I stand pretty much by what I said earlier which is a few clarifications.
In my own personal opinion, it was wrong for the police officers to put that video up on the Internet. So in that I agree with the ACLU and a number of the other people who have talked about this entire disturbing event.
However, I have to say that I have traveled through. Omaha a number of times. Meaning Omaha, Nebraska of course. I met a lot of really amazing and wonderful people in Omaha during the years. I would go back and forth to and from school or as I was doing business around the country. And Omaha is a really lovely and very attractive very pretty city. It's a very nice city. I always found the people to be tremendously friendly and very kind.
At the same time. Omaha is like any other city in this country. It has its own share of drug problems and homeless and alcohol problems and a host of other things. Just like any other city. Perhaps less than some. And perhaps in other ways more than some. But that's not the issue.
In one way or another. I have been in the position of either mentoring or have been responsible for the care of children as early as when I was nine and 10 years old. It was just something that seemed very natural for me. I always found children. Meaning children younger than I was as I was a child growing up. I always found them to be remarkable. And in my experience I have seen children at a very early age like this child imitating the adults that they may have been connected to in one way or another. I've also seen children as they have first ventured into the world of language mistakes certain words for one explicative or another. I've seen parents sometimes overreact to that. I've seen parents sometimes ignore it. I've seen parents who acted badly when they saw it happening. I've seen parents to would strike their child rather violently if they heard their child behaving that way. And yet when I look back at all these experiences the way had in my life. As I was traveling. I remember seeing children basically in these situations falling into one of two groups. The first group of course being the type of child or the child rather regardless of ethnicity, testing out language and of course making mistakes where and explicative might be produced. And then I have seen children in this other group where they are basically imitating what they are living in and around.
No one I have seen children imitating what they are living in and around, again, regardless of any ethnicity or any other criteria that we adults might apply. When I have seen a child in that situation. For some reason I never noticed the explicative sort of the obscenities as much as I noticed what I was feeling from the child. And in almost every case it was confusion, disorientation and fear.
I was actually a big brother once for a few years. And I actually was in a situation where my charge ended up in the police station one evening. And it happened just a few days before I was to see this young boy who was about 12 years old, who I was a big brother for. His mother called me on the phone and told me what happened and she said she just didn't know what to do. So I asked her if she had asked him why he did what he did. And when I asked her that question she suddenly stopped because it was the one question. She hadn't asked. Then she said that she wasn't sure if she knew how to ask that. So I've found that the child was going to get out of the police station just one day before I was to pick them up for our were weekly visit. And let's call this little boy, let's call him by the name, let's say, Tom. That's not what his real name was. But that's good enough for this discussion.
So I picked a Tom up for our weekly visit and his mother had not asked him that question. And this is how things went.
Tom got in the car and I started driving off. We were actually going to go to the zoo. And it was about an hour away from where Tom and his mother lived. So as we were driving after about three or 4 min. I said," so Tom. And how was your week?"
And Tom said," well, it didn't go so well."
"Really? So was it really a good week?"
"No. It was actually sort crummy"
"Crummy? Gosh. I'm sure sorry to hear that. What happened?"
"Well, now don't get mad. But I got arrested."
"Arrested? Really? You got arrested. Well, I bet that just wasn't very much fun was it?"
"So wasn't much fun. What about it wasn't really very much fun, Tom?"
"Well, the jail smelled really bad. And everyone was talking loudly."
"So the jail smelled bad. Well I know that's right. But you're okay. Right?"
"Well, sure. I mean, yeah. I'm okay. Mom was sort of angry."
"So mom is angry. You ended up in jail. And everybody was really talking loudly. And the jail smelled really bad. So how did you end up in jail?"
"Like I said, don't get mad. But I broke into this ice cream parlor. You know the one down at the end of the street."
"Yeah, I know that ice cream parlor. That's a long we went to about a month ago. Remember when it was still warm out? That's the one you mean right?"
"Yeah. That's the one."
"So you broke into the ice cream parlor. And I guess I'm just sort of wondering. How come?"
"Well, I tried to tell mom but she didn't really let me tell her."
"Well, I can sort of understand that. So tell me instead. Was it because you wanted the money? I mean I've always told you, like I've told your mom. If you ever needed any help. I would always be around."
"No. It wasn't the money. I just wanted some ice cream."
"You wanted some ice cream. Well that makes sense. Ice cream sure is good isn't it?"
"Well, yeah. And we didn't have any. And I wanted some."
"Well, of course you did. Everybody likes ice cream. Like I said, I can definitely understand that. I love ice cream."
"Yeah. So do I."
"So you broke into the ice cream parlor because you wanted some ice cream which makes perfect sense. But what happened?"
"Well, while I was eating out of one of the chance of ice cream. I guess I must've set off the alarm. And then the police showed up."
"Well, you know, Tom. That makes a lot of sense too. Doesn't it?"
"Yeah. It does."
"So Tom. Let me ask you. Did the ice cream taste good?"
"Oh yeah. It was great."
"But then the police showed up. So how does the ice cream taste then?"
"Well, it started to taste sort of crummy."
"Wow. So in other words at first it started tasting really great. And then all of a sudden it started tasting crummy?"
"Yeah. It sure did."
"Now why do you think that happened?"
"Well, don't you know?"
"I'm not sure. That's why, I'm asking you. Because I'm not really sure. So why do you think the ice cream started tasting really crummy?"
"Well, I think it started tasting crummy as I was getting scared. Because the police were there and then everybody started talking loudly. I didn't really understand why they were talking so loudly. And then mom started yelling. And then the ice cream just didn't taste good anymore."
"I see. But you're okay. Right?"
"Yeah. I'm okay. The police were really sort of nice. They stopped talking loudly. And mom stopped yelling. But I still had sort of a belly ache."
"So you wanted some ice cream. And then you broke into the ice cream parlor. And you had some ice cream. And it tasted really good. And then the police showed up. And then the ice cream didn't taste very good anymore. Have I got it about right?"
"Well, yeah. Are you mad at me?"
"Tom. Why would I ever get mad at you for enjoying something or wanting something that everybody enjoys? That would make any sense. Would it?"
"No. You're right. Everybody I know loves ice cream. But we didn't have any."
"Well, I understand that. Ice cream is one of those things. Like when we go to the movies. It costs money."
At this point Tom was sort of looking down at his feet.
"So Tom. What do you think? Was it a good idea?"
"No. I don't guess that it was."
"But you might not have known that before. Right? I mean, you had to break into the ice cream parlor before you can find out it was a bad idea?"
Tom looked at me and almost got tears in his eyes. So I pulled the car over.
"Mickey. I don't know what to say. I don't think it was a good idea at all."
"You know, Tom. That makes a lot of sense. So maybe you knew that before you broke into the ice cream parlor. Right?"
"Yeah. I guess I think I did."
Tom wasn't crying but he had tears in his eyes. So I handed him a handkerchief.
"But you probably weren't really sure whether or not it was a good idea because she still wanted the ice cream. That makes sense. Did you learn anything from any of that?"
Then Tom looked up at me and he smiled and almost laughed.
"Well, yeah. I learned if I wanted to have some ice cream. I probably should call you away from mom get paid."
Then putting my hand on his shoulder." Then perhaps while it was probably not a real good idea. You still did learn something. Which means some good came out of it. Right?"
"Well, then perhaps it wasn't really such a crummy week after all. Was it?"
And Tom smiled and slid over next to me as I shifted the car out of park and we drove on to the zoo.
"Is learning always this hard?"
"Most of the time, it's not. But sometimes it is. It all depends on you. I have a funny feeling that you probably learned a lot more than what you may realize. Right now."
"I sort of think you're right"
Tom and his mother eventually had to move away for a few different reasons. But Tom really did learn a lot from that one experience. The police were wonderful. Through it all. They were very much like I was. Tom wasn't a bad boy. He liked ice cream like any little boy or girl. Because ice cream is fun. And what little boy or girl will say that doesn't make sense. Tom went on to grow into a fairly decent gentleman. Meaning a good man. I haven't heard from him or his mother in years. But she told me that our conversation really had an effect on him that he was really glad I didn't get angry and he was really glad that I wanted just to let him talk and try to explain it.
Loving a child is not really that hard. We oftentimes make it much harder than it is. We program them with all sorts of stuff. Whether it's on TV or some other stuff that we might create or think up. And we forget. They are children. Sometimes playing a game like kick the can can be a lot more fun than sitting in front of a video game. Or playing pretend. Or even just coloring a picture. Because as we get older and we grow up holding onto the dreams that we had when we were children becomes harder. Because the dreams change. And sometimes they become obsessions or addictions. But the reality is the most effective thing you can do with a child is to simply love them. Because in reality no child is created out of hatred or revenge or any of the other shadowy concepts that we adults might have in mind. Children are always created out of just one single thing. Love. I've never seen a child in my life who came into this world as a result of hatred or violence or ugliness. And trust me I am not talking about rape. After all, I and my darling Aileen. She was and I am a rape victim. But at the moment that child is born. At the moment that child comes into this world. Regardless of any of the other stuff that goes on before. If the mother does not elect to terminate. If that child comes into this world at the very moment when it makes its first sound. That sound is born out of love. Because if the mother decides not to terminate and carries that child all the way to turn the decision she makes to do that is made on the basis of just that one single thing. Love.
I've always been pro-life. But I am also pro-choice. I don't believe it's fair for anyone to tell a woman what she is to decide within her own soul regarding the potential life. She is carrying. That's between her and the life inside of her or the potential for life inside of her, and whatever concept of a creator. She may have within her. So while I am pro-life. I'm also pro-choice.
So when I look at that video again a little while ago. I didn't see VS and the city of the child. I didn't really pay attention to the adults. At one point I actually closed my eyes so that I could listen more accurately to the sounds. Because a lot of times when you have your eyes open you can't really hear as distinctly as you can. When your eyes are closed. So that's what I did. I actually learned that in college in the theater. Because if you want to really hear what someone is saying in a soliloquy or in what they may be reading in a part in a play. The best way to do so is to close your eyes. Because then you are not focusing on them visually and so as a result, your ears actually become much more sensitive to almost every single syllable of what they're saying.
And when I closed my eyes and I listened to this child what I actually could hear was just what I said. Confusion, frustration and fear.
And being a father and a grandfather. Every instinct inside of me says that if I were there and I saw that child doing that I would walk over to that little boy and I would pick him up in my arms and I would hold him and not say a single word.
It's not hard to love a child. That's the easy part. The very moment you look into a child's eyes. Everything inside of you, all those memories of your own childhood and all of the other cultural elements of your own life and where you are living come into play. So it is you are looking into the eyes of that child it's easy to love a child. What's hard is being able to show that love. Because we all feel that love. That's part of being a human being. Showing the love. That's something that we as humans don't really do very well. If we did. I mean if we really were doing a good job at showing how much we love children how much we really do love children. If we were really doing a good job we would probably be able to love ourselves a lot more.
In my neighborhood within five blocks of my home in any direction. There are at least 50 young girls between the ages of 15 and 18 who have at least two children. In my neighborhood children begin carrying firearms of one sort or another, usually as young as 10 or 11 or 12 years old. In my neighborhood almost one out of every four children and stop addicted to drugs or alcohol. Within 1 mile of my home. There are over 150 sexual predators. So in my neighborhood children really don't have a very easy time. Which is one of the reasons I whistle. With all the sounds that these children have to hear. I want them to be able to hear me whistling. Because it's something they don't normally hear. I want them to hear me whistling. And what's really interesting is that every single young person. Meaning elementary school, high school child or teenager I meet as soon as they see me whistling they always smile. Which convinces me that my whistling is exactly the right thing to do.
As I said. Omaha, Nebraska it is just like some of these other amazing cities in this country. It's incredibly attractive it's a very lovely city. And the people I met as I was traveling through Nebraska with some of the kindest warmhearted people you would ever want to meet. I know the Nebraska like other places in this country has racial problems and political problems and all the other junk that most places have. But the one thing I keep remembering in what these police officers said, I wish I could separate from all of the racial overtones are in you Windows regarding the situation. I don't think that the child behaviors going to spiral it down into a life of crime. That part I don't agree with. What I do agree with is the part where they said, no child deserves this.
Because they don't. I read a report from MSNBC news tonight about Darfur. The story is heartbreaking. When you read what these children are going through. It's just heartbreaking. It's why I feel honored to be a human rights advocate. Even though my advocacy can't even come close to what hundreds of thousands and millions of wonderful young adults and men and women all over the world are doing every day, rescuing these children and helping them. And thank God for that. Because I know that if they read what I have written here they will probably smile. Because of all those things the children need the most. The one thing that they don't get as much as they need is simply our love.
They might get lots of praise or lots of criticism or they might simply sit in front of the TV with the TV being the babysitter. But if we really give them our love if we could really do that. Perhaps we might be able to give ourselves the same kind of love. And perhaps then well maybe if we really could do that in neighborhoods like mine. Perhaps there wouldn't be so many young girls having babies before they even know how to love themselves. Perhaps there wouldn't the so many children carrying guns. Or so many becoming drug addicts or alcoholics before their life has even begun.
So when I look at that child in that video I would pick them up and I would hold them and not say a word. And if they needed to be changed. I would probably take them to the bathroom and wash them off and do exactly that and probably not say a single word. Because I know if you see a child who is in distress like that. And you pick them up and pulled him close to your heart. You don't have to say a single word. They will feel your heart beat and you will feel there's and then nothing has to be said. Because that's the language that children understand before they can even talk.
In my writing as a human rights advocate I have to be as hard as steel. I have to be as hard as concrete. Because I'm going up against ideologies and cognitive thinking, where the byproduct is that really good people. Single mothers and single fathers and mothers and fathers and people who dedicate their lives to protecting all of us are suffering. They're not getting the help they need they're not getting the support they need. We are not saying thank you were not remembering they are mothers and fathers just like all of us. They have children and if we make these mothers and fathers, regardless of who or where they are suffer. We then and up making the children suffer. And if we do that then we deprive those children of the very thing they need and want the most. To be loved. It's such an easy thing to do. And yet you read about these terrible tragedies like in Darfur. These tragedies where these children are having everything stolen from them. They are having their childhood they are having their families. They are having their lives literally stolen from them.
So it's not just the mothers and fathers to end up suffering. It's the children. And it's not about being a Catholic or a Jew or a Muslim or Christian or a Buddhist or anything else. It's about children being children. Children being born and that the moment they are born. At the moment they first make that first sound. It is as a result of love. Regardless of the circumstances. If a woman chooses not to terminate. And she carries that child. The moment that child makes its first sound. It's always because of love. Whether it's the love of the mother who carried that job. And those nine months or whether it's a love of the nurse who holds that child for the first moment in her arms or his arm. It doesn't matter.
So I didn't see the obscenities and I didn't see the ethnicity of the child. When I closed my eyes. And I listened it's like I told you. All I could see was confusion, frustration and fear. And I don't think that's fair. I don't care where the child is with her in Darfur or India or Asia or Russia or South America or London or France of the United States. I don't think it's fair. I don't think it is the right thing to do. If we can love our children. There is no way we can love ourselves or each other.
But I'm older now and getting older all the time. My body doesn't work anywhere near as well as it used to. And I no longer travel around very much. I've lost just about everything I ever could in my life. I've even lost the one thing I have loved more than anything else in this world. My darling Aileen. So there's not much I can do to help these children other than to perhaps whistle while I'm out. So that of all the adults they might meet I will be the one whistling. I will be the one always smiling. I will be the one always with a song in my heart and heaven on my mind. So that of all the things in this neighborhood. These children will see. I'll be the thing that maybe is just a bit different. And if I'm lucky and God willing, maybe one of those children will pay attention and they will appreciate hearing someone whistle and not stumble by them in a drunken stupor or yelling and screaming or walking by them with hatred. I'll be the one always smiling wishing them well. Hoping they are okay. Telling them to learn is much as they can while they are in school because they are our future. They are our greatest invention no matter what. They are the best things we are part of making. If we destroy them. We destroy ourselves.
And in so many ways I feel like I have failed. Because they are dying every minute. Their dying horribly as a result of how hard it is for us to love ourselves or each other. And as a result of all of our fighting in all of our selfishness and hard and are drug addiction and alcoholism and all the other junk to get involved with. It's our children, who suffer. They are the ones who pay the price. And I don't think that is a very good idea. I don't think that's fair. In 1972 I tried to tell my fellow students at Fort Lewis college how I felt. Not many really believe what I was saying. Not many really even understood and so now we have a world where children don't really have much chance to be children anymore, we either praise them in a really dumb way making them believe they are greater than what they really are to the point where they end up falling down and not doing very well or we beat on them and yell at them a we put them in front of some box and let the box be the babysitter and we forget that they come into this world full of dreams become in this world without any understanding whatsoever and of all the things that we do in this world. The one thing they need the most is the hardest thing for us to do. Love them.
I've cried so many tears over the years for these children that a lot of people probably think I'm just old and stupid, but I don't think so. Because I'm 63 years old and I've never met my own mother. I don't even know what she looks like and act like a guiding star to this very moment she's right there next to my darling Aileen and not a second goes by when I don't feel that connection to her to my mother. Just like I feel my connection to my darling Aileen. Which is why I told my darling Aileen that she wasn't going far she was going home. And that the first thing she should do is find my mother. Because if she found my mom she would be home. And that I would then eventually find them myself.
I guess what I'm saying is that we are all children. The matter how old we are because there is that part inside of every one of us. That little boy or girl. Full of dreams full of hopes full of fears and the easiest thing to do is the hardest. To love ourselves and each other.
When I'm out walking. And I see people of every single type I never look at what other people see when I come up on someone I have never met. I always try to see that light. That light that can't be seen with the eyes. That light that you see with your heart, I focus my attention that way it's amazing. Because not only do I see that light but I see that child in them. Because that's what we are. The matter how old we get the matter how sophisticated or broken or damaged we never lose part of that child inside of us. And in my mind and in my heart and soul our children is the one resource we have that we destroy more easily than any other resource in the entire world. And that is just very sad. I used to I have hopes that we would do better. But we haven't. Now we are killing children much more effectively and at a greater number than we ever have. And each time we destroy or one of their lives. We destroy more of the greatest resource that we as humans beings have and that is a real tragedy. It just breaks my heart.
So I don't know what anyone else saw when they look for looked at that video but that meaning the foregoing what I've written here. That's what I saw. If my body words. So broken and if things have not turned out the way they have perhaps I would be out there in the field shoulder to shoulder with some of these brilliant men and women and young adults these young men and young women trying their best to help these children. But I can't my life when the way it did. So the best I can do is to write a feelings here and hope that someone will pay attention. When a child acts like that little boy and that video. It's so easy to forget it's so easy not to see what's really happening. Because we're looking at what we expect to see rather than what is really taking place.
This cold weather has produced some really dangerous conditions for families. Here in Ohio alone there are communities that are running out of water and where the water has been contaminated there are cities that are having problems hitting their homes where the children are getting cold. And the families are running out of food. He it doesn't matter what country you are in when the family is running out of food, the children are scared. And that's not fair. They deserve more than what we are giving them and how they are suffering and how they are dying is a direct reflection of what we're doing to ourselves. If we can't love them. If we can't respect them for what they are the greatest resource we have been you end up with a neighborhood like-minded were children don't even have the chance to be children very much. Or you end up with these terrible and tragic conditions all over the world where children are being slaughtered and murdered and manipulated and used. But what about loving them? What about respecting them for what they are? The greatest resource we have.
If there was any way to stop all of this the street and an abuse of children, such as my dying. If my death would stop humanity from murdering and abusing these children I would gladly die this very second. And that's not a hollow promise. Because I really mean that with all my heart.
Think about it. They are our children. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. No matter what. They are our children. They don't deserve the world. We are giving them. We have to do better. Not for ourselves but for them.