DOES IT MATTER HOW A CHILD DIES?
You are driving alone down a city street. It is a nice day and you are in no particular hurry. You are observing the speed limit of 40 miles per hour and you are paying full attention to your driving. Your cell phone is turned off, and for once you don’t have the stereo on. Suddenly you notice something out of the corner of your eye. From the right side of the street a small child darts out in front of you. In a split second you slam on the brakes with all your strength. You yank the wheel as hard as you can to the left, but it is too late. You hear and feel the sickening impact as your vehicle strikes the little boy.
The force of the impact hurls his body over 15 feet. He hits the pavement and rolls several times and then lies motionless. Your car has come to a stop but you can’t let go of the wheel. You can’t breathe and you feel sick at your stomach. You realize you are shaking violently, but you can’t bring yourself to open the door. Slowly you become aware of other people. Some have cell phones and are obviously calling 911, others rush to the child. They crowd around his body so your view is blocked. You feel tears rolling down your cheeks and you blink to try and hold them back but you can’t. You hear someone yell that the boy is not breathing. You watch in absolute horror as people move back to make room for a woman who begins to perform CPR.
You open your car door and step out, but your knees buckle and you collapse to the pavement. You are softly crying and you begin to pray as other people run over to you. A lady leans down and tells you that it wasn’t your fault. The child came out of nowhere, and there was no way you could miss him. Her words are meaningless. A person kneeling near the child calls out that the boy is not responding. You begin to sob. How could this be happening? You were doing everything you were supposed to do. You were being safe. You were following the rules. That child should not be lying in the street without a heartbeat.
Off in the distance you begin to hear the sirens. Help is on the way but you know it’s too late. Within minutes a police officer is by your side, and paramedics have taken over the life saving efforts on the little boy. Everything is a blur, you can’t clear your mind and focus. The officer is asking you questions but you can only think about the child. Time is suspended. You begin to realize that by taking this human life you have also destroyed your own life. Nothing will ever be the same. This day on the calendar will bring recurring pain for the rest of your life.
Months later you are still dealing with the horror of that day. It is difficult to sleep and when you do, you dream of the impact over and over again. Friends and family don’t know how to help you. Everyone has tried to point out that you are a good person, and that it wasn’t your fault. It was just “one of those things” that unfortunately happens in life, but their words ring hollow and bring no comfort. Being a good person doesn’t enter into the fact that you inadvertently took the life of an innocent child. The little boy is dead. His family lives in despair. Your life is filled with misery. You will never again be the person that you were.
How much money would you give to bring back that child’s life?
How much would you pay to go back in time and relive that day so that you could take a different route and this tragedy would not have occurred? What would you pay to avoid killing that child?…Would that little boy’s life be worth 25 cents to you? That is how much it cost to feed a meal to a child in extreme poverty. For a quarter you can feed a child a meal that will keep them alive. For $7.50 you can feed a meal to that child every day for a month and by doing so you can save their life.
It may seem inappropriate to put a price on human life but it is necessary in this case to demonstrate what a significant difference a small amount of money can make. Most people would spend every dollar they have in the world to bring back a child they accidentally killed with their car, but those same decent people won’t spend a quarter to save the life of a starving child. It is two totally different reactions to the same result; the death of an innocent human being.
Whether we accidentally kill a child near our house or a child starves to death out of our sight on the other side of the world they are both just as dead. Whether we strike the child with our car or let them starve from our neglect, we play a role in both deaths. The world’s children, no matter where they may live, depend on adults to take care of them, and it is our responsibility to do so. Is a particular child’s life more valuable than another’s? Aren’t the lives of all children everywhere precious? How can we make the distinction that unless we are directly involved, the child’s life doesn’t matter?
We would never be negligent to the point where we would harm a child while driving and yet every day we are negligent in feeding children, ensuring they have safe water, providing medical care for them and educating them. We feel no guilt over this. It has no effect on our lives. We still feel good about ourselves. 25,000 children die needlessly each day from extreme poverty, a total of 9,125,000 a year, and it doesn’t bother us at all. But if we were directly involved in the traffic related death of one child we would never recover. We must learn to place equal value on the lives of children everywhere. We must realize they all deserve our compassion and our help.
THE DEATH OF A CHILD IS A HEARTBREAKING TRAGEDY NO MATTER HOW OR WHERE IT OCCURS.