I just came across a Montreal Gazette article that got my blood boiling: Pregnant Woman Begs Court For Leniency In Child Abuse Case.
It is so unbelievably sad for me to read the facts of that case: The drug addict's 18 month old baby escaped from an apartment and climbed down three stories to the street, "saving his own life". He was nearly starved, had broken bones, burns, and infected sores. This lady has since had two more children (2 years old, 10 months) with some guy that has two other children, and now she's having a third. She says she's turned her life around, and if she goes to jail then the other children will be without a mother.
How about the Florida mother who murdered her three month old baby for crying as she played a computer game. Or maybe the father who took a drunken walk in a snowstorm with his two baby daughters -- the girls froze to death in their diapers and t-shirts. The mother who didn't want her children to be with their father, so she drowned them. Another mother was divorcing and wanted to take the kids back to Australia where she was from -- the father didn't want that so she killed the kids and tried to kill herself but failed. The couple who kept their five year old in the basement, feeding her vomit, beating her and shooting her with a pellet gun over the years until she finally died. The dad who killed his kids to punish his ex-wife for flirting.
On and on it goes. I'm touched far more deeply by the murder of a child than an adult. Part of it is the unfairness inherent in the murder of a small child. They are so weak, so trusting, so easy to fool. The murderers barely had to invest any effort in ending these lives, on a whim, in a moment of rage, to punish, or just for entertainment. Some of the murderers try to kill themselves afterward but fail, showing how incompetent they were and how manageable the victims were. It's unfair, but there is a tragedy beyond that!
The Larger Tragedy
Young children are a very special class of people know don't know what evil is. Totally innocent. Lying, politics, racism, nationalism: it's all for the future when their brains get complicated enough to plan deceptions and remember what they're supposed to be for and against. Leave it to sophisticated adults while kids live lives many of us truly want, playing, reading a book with mommy and daddy, learning the simple rules of life like "Always say thank-you" and feeling proud about it, or watching princesses or dinosaurs on tv.
Young children have no options in their tiny universe. What would it be if you only knew one or two people in the whole world, or you'de only ever seen a few faces, or you didn't even know that you were a person too? Imagine you didn't know how to use a phone, didn't know where anything was outside your home, maybe didn't even know how to speak and didn't understand the language. Imagine you couldn't predict or feel that you were going to the washroom, and couldn't tell anyone that you were sitting in it and it made your skin feel itchy. Imagine if you didn't know how to eat or drink, maybe didn't even know what the feeling of being hungry and thirsty meant; just discomfort but not how to treat it?
Now imagine if the only good thing you ever knew, the thing you never doubted, then thing you couldn't live without turned on you: Looked into your eyes then pushed your head under water or tied a rope around your neck or hit you with sticks or threw you off a balcony or left you in the snow and walked away as you cried until you froze.
Parents, trusted and loved by their babies, will never have such purity of trust and love given to them again. Even their own children, over time, will learn that humans fail and humans lie and humans do bad things -- parents included. Children will divide their love towards other people, adventure, money, pride, pleasure. The purity of the parent-child relationship will cloud, turning from crystal to muddy water.
Parents often say how perfect their little baby was when it was just born. I never understood that. My baby was born wrinkly and slimy, it had that umbilical chord thingy attached to it, and it crying immediately. Is that perfect? I didn't think so. But as I wrote this post, I got to thinking about my kids and all the murdered kids and why I was so shaken. The reason is because children are perfect in their blank slate and forced total trust in their parents. When we're born we are the most perfect we ever will be, starting down a lifelong struggle, if we choose to accept it, to get back to that initial perfection even a little. When someone kills or hurts a child they are destroying the best, most flawless thing they possibly destroy. If people exist who don't feel the sense to protect that, then what hope can we have for the rest of our crooked and dirty world?