Children vs. the GDP?

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children….”

— Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

The Trump Administration is promoting full opening of schools, backed by Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education. This to help parents get back to work and the economy rolling again, and to get children back into the classroom with teachers. These actions might be good ones without a pandemic in which children ARE at risk and can bring the virus home. It is another blinders-on recommendation from an inept and reckless Republican administration. (Note: Many Republicans are currently distancing themselves from a Toxic Whitehouse.)

I wish to reflect on Nelson Mandela’s quote which is pertinent to the present moment as leaders suggest using children as political vectors.

A new academic book, The Ecology of Childhood, by Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, was published early this year and then swiftly subsumed into the background as the Covid-19 Pandemic broke into our awareness. Yet it is a book relevant to the present moment. This I cannot emphasize enough.

Woodhouse is L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law at Emory University and director of the Emory Child Rights Project. She has devoted her career in law to defending the rights of children while studying the systems that impact children’s worlds. Read a biography.

The true measure of a just and sustainable society is whether it meets the basic needs of children and whether its policies foster environments in which children, young people, and families can flourish. ~ The Ecology of Childhood

Using this as a basic premise, Woodhouse presents a compelling argument for reexamining the values which inform our social contract with each other. The book analyzes the macrosystems that impact a child’s microsystem. These are: globalization, unrestricted capitalism, technological change, rising inequality, mass migration, racial conflict, and human-made climate change.

Do our policies foster environments in which children, young people, and families can flourish? If we the people create the macrosystems (which Woodhouse writes are comprised of the “ideas, values, prejudices, and powers that create hierarchies that can damage children”), then we the people can reform and reshape those macrosystems.

Listen to an NPR program rethinking the values that underlie the economy. Here are TED Talks with innovative ideas. Discussion is about stakeholder capitalism rather than shareholder capitalism.

Related are TED Talks by innovators thinking about how to reform the economy to reflect valuing people. See the TED Talk on this page and go to another one by Kate Ravorth here.

I believe that the current Black Lives Matter movement, which is now a rising wave of aligned movements joined in awareness that this IS the moment for such reform, then we can gain focus from Woodhouse’s approach which is to work with children’s rights in mind.

What should be our Covid-19 policies toward the health and welfare of children and families? I suggest that using the GDP as the prime measure of how we answer that question IS an example of a policy that needs reform.

The lack of proper healthcare, inadequate income, missing maternity and sick leave policies for every person and worker, racial inequalities, and climate change — these are harmful outcomes of errant policies that are currently under scrutiny in the piercing spotlight of the pandemic.

Read a review of The Ecology of Childhood.

Buy the book for your legislator, candidate, or changemaker.

Visionaries of the future

Supporting Young Voters

Rock the Vote seeks to maximize the power of young people by supporting, educating, and providing tools for them to vote, organize, and grow in numbers to realize their collect power to shape the future.

Among the rich resources provided on the website is Democracy Class. This is a curriculum that can be taught at schools to educate youth about all aspects of voting in America. It teaches the history of voting in the U.S. and preregisters and registers young people to vote. The curriculum is nonpartisan. The website, resources, and messaging demonstrate how to effectively organize and use social media. There are numerous virtual tools.

As I have watched young protesters across the country grieving for criminal justice reform and an end to the racists roots that plague the body politic, I am so encouraged. Young Americans today are much less caught up in stereotypes, fluid in their acceptance of diversity among themselves, indeed celebratory of their differences. THAT is the direction we must follow.

Take Action to Assure Safe Voting for 2020.

I am from the Boomer generation, turning 75 in just a few days. The world being born is one that belongs to young Americans and I can be a part of its realization by helping their new world birth itself. Not for myself, but for young Americans who will make this a healthier nation. With them we’ll realize the dreams written in the Constitution which our forefathers never truly understood yet made possible. Young Americans will realize the dream more fully, and on and on, as a nation devoted to freedom grows in understanding of what that means and can possibly bring to everyone.

Go to Rock the Vote and engage in all the opportunities there. I am going to work on a Democracy Class for Bowling Green students.

See About Rock the Vote

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