While I’m sitting here in my privileged, white, affluent life checking my step count and reminiscing about the concert I attended last night, it’s hard to believe that in the USA children are being separated from their parents and kept in camps and cages.
I am a psychologist and writer, but I want to put those identities I use to signify my authority aside for a moment and write as a human being. I would contend that in every situation, every argument about money, race, behaviour, war, class or any human-constructed organisational situation, the way we treat children is a true moral compass.
I once had an argument with a family member who is a self-professed racist who told me that the civilians killed in the Iraq war are ‘collateral damage’. But I asked him to say out loud that it was fine that even one child was killed, he could not. Because he knows that it is wrong. Well-adjusted human beings have empathy for their fellow humans, particularly children who are typically helpless.
We dress up our human dance with words that generalise and divert from the real issues – how we treat each other. What is happening now is the USA is this: children are being mistreated. Adults are also being mistreated. The situation, where children are being detained at border points, taken from their parents and put into camps, is being explained by politicians as ‘illegal immigrants being dealt with’ and the overarching narrative is power. But what possible viable reason can there be to take a child away from its parent, unless the parent either agreed? Or was not physically able to look after them but then, for goodness sake, help them to stay together as a family. Find a solution that helps everyone.
It is easy to dress this up with ‘the law’, religion, politics, arguments about levels of care and what they mean, but it comes down to this: if you are reading this piece and thinking about about anything other than those poor children crying for their Mummy and Daddy, please check your own moral compass. If you are making excuses for why this happened, and beginning to form ad hominem insults to compensate for your lack, then dig deeper.
If you are thinking in particular, that I am a ‘lefty snowflake’ or suchlike, let me make it clear that I am not attacking any particular person, rather, holding the position that it is wrong to separate children from their parents and keep them in cages, so you argument is immediately lost by attacking me personally. I am looking beyond politics, beyond the Left and the Right and at other people as human beings, asyou need to do.
If you can say out loud in front of the people you love that any innocent child deserves to be treated in such a way, then I would suggest that you go and read up on what affective empathy and cognitive empathy means, and what lack of them signifies about the mental health of a person.
But this is not about us. Me or you. It is about a small child somewhere in America who is crying for his Mummy. It’s always about the children. Always.