There are few things in this life more difficult to experience than the loss of one's child. Jim Wallis tells about a sad and terrifying incident that occurred during the tragic war in Sarajevo not too many years back.
A reporter who was covering the violence in the middle of the city saw a little girl fatally shot by a sniper.
The reporter threw down his pad and pencil and rushed to the aid of a man who was now holding the child. He helped them both into his car and sped off to a hospital.
"Hurry, my friend," the man urged, "my child is still alive."
A moment or two later he pleaded, "Hurry, my friend, my child is still breathing."
A little later he said, "Hurry, my friend, my child is still warm."
When they got to the hospital, the young girl was gone.
"This is a terrible task for me," the distraught man said to the reporter. "I must go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken."
The reporter was amazed. He looked at the grieving man and said, "I thought she was YOUR child."
The man replied, "No, but aren't they all our children?"
I think that is one of the great questions of our age.
It is a question that deserves an answer.
Those to whom we are related as well as those whom we have never known?
Those of our nation no more or less than those of another?
Those who worship like us and those who worship differently? Those who look like us and those who do not?
The well-fed and the under-fed?
Those who are secure and those who are at risk?
The highly valued and highly esteemed as well as the castaways and the lost?
Aren't they all our responsibility?
ALL of them?
Ours to nurture?
Ours to protect?
Ours to love?
I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that the survival of our world hinges on the answer to that question.
To say they are NOT all our children is to condemn the world to more struggle
– family against family,
- group against group,
- nation against nation.
If we say yes, can we ever again pit them against each other?
"If we have no peace," said Mother Teresa, "it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
There may be no greater question for our generation.
And how we answer that question will determine the shape of our world for years to come.