A neighbor with a brochure came to my door yesterday. She’s new to the area and we’d said a few words this summer when she and her husband moved into the corner house on my block. When I opened my screen door, she smiled but said little, choosing to press her printed material into my hand and then turn away.
I didn’t have to ask what she’d given me. I knew by its size and shape, it was religious material. Inside was a message urging me to think about God as I approached the end of life.
I know my neighbor meant well, but her assumption that I’d given little thought to my death struck me as an impertinence. Anyone who’s read my blog knows I think a good deal about death and life. Most recently, I’ve been thinking about children. I wonder why we give them so much lip service while spending the bulk of our government money bailing out banks or building bombs.
The other day, for example, I ran across some interesting information about chronic illness. (“A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness,” by Alexis Jetter, More, November 2013, pgs.84-91) I learned that violence of any kind is a major contributor to some diseases. Children are particularly vulnerable. Stress hormones play havoc in the brain, especially in the first 1,000 days of an infant’s life. The memory of a traumatic event may fade away, but the brain never forgets. Stress hormones that flood into the body, particularly at an early age, damage the immune system and pave the way for future impairments like migraines, sleep deprivation, diabetes and cancer, to name a few.
As I grow old, I’m convinced the world needs to spend more money on the young, starting with the mother, giving her the assistance she needs to give birth safely and teaching her how to be a good parent. Hillary Clinton got it right. To raise a child takes a village — a village where food is plentiful, where medical assistance in plentiful, where counseling is plentiful and where safe neighborhoods are the norm. In the United States, I’d like us to worry less about terrorist abroad and think more about the wrongs we create when our children are neglected. I say our children, because that’s what they are and we pay a price when we forget it.
I wish we’d spend more time thinking about beginnings. If we did, the ends might turn out better.
After reading my neighbor’s brochure, I threw it away. I don’t have time to worry about death. I’m worried about life.
(Courtesy of www.photoee.com)