Jonathan Sacks: It would be a saner world if we put our children first

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have not always put children first in recent times. They have been the victims, in Britain, of the breakdown of marriage, the instability of families, changes in work practices, and the consumerisation of society. We still have a long way to go in making ours a child-friendly society. In February 2007 a Unicef survey of 21 industrialised nations found Britain’s children the unhappiest of all. Children are always vulnerable. They are dependent on others. They have no vote and all too little voice. There are many different interpretations of the famous passage in the Bible — we read it on the second day of the new year — about the binding of Isaac, but I read it as God’s command to Abraham, and through him to us: Do not sacrifice your children. Isaac lives. God countermands his earlier request. Ever afterward, throughout the Bible, child sacrifice is seen as the most heinous of all sins.

There are many ways in which children can become victims, but none is justified. All too often, nations are driven by a sense of the past: there are grievances to be redressed, honour to be recovered, past glory to be regained. Yet we would have a more peaceful and constructive world if we looked to the future, of which our children are the symbol and the beneficiaries.

If we put children first, we would, I believe, have a saner society and a less conflict-filled world. The rabbis said that the Universe only survives because of the innocent chatter of children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

Posted September 27, 2008 at 8:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. DonGander wrote:

It is interesting to note that in nearly any religion/culture children will be regarded with great value.

It is equally interesting that much of modern religion/culture does nto value children. They utter plattitudes like “every child a wanted child” and destroy children with impunity.

Patronize childhood, yes. Value it? No.


September 27, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeffersonian wrote:

I’m not entirely sure I agree with Sacks’ argument here, and in particular with his apparent use of the royal “we.”  I’ve lost count of the idiotic collectivist initiatives that have been implemented “for the children,”  almost all of which have been detrimental to the welfare of actual children. 

If you want to improve the lot of children, the best way to do it is to take good care of your own and be someone they can look to, now and later, as a person worthy of emulation.

September 27, 9:44 pm | [comment link]
3. libraryjim wrote:

I thought the latest studies showed that parents who ‘put their marriage first’ raised healthier, more confident children?

It just goes to show, if you don’t like the conclusions of one study, wait five minutes, and another will show up that shows the opposite conclusion.

Jim E. <><

September 27, 10:21 pm | [comment link]
4. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

hear, hear and such a sane society would do well to begin by outlawing the disgraceful practice of abortion

September 28, 8:43 am | [comment link]
5. Chris wrote:

#3, you thought correctly re: marriage between of the utmost importance, more so than driving your kids to every imaginable activity.  You might say that the world is less sane PRECISELY because we have put the children first…..

September 28, 2:16 pm | [comment link]
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