UNIVERSAL CHILDRENS DAY
Luke, Chapter 19, Verse 20-21
20 Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’
When I read this verse; I thought of Mathew Kelly’s writing from his book, “Rediscovering Catholicism.” Kelly speaks about the various attitudes and philosophies which shape and define the mindset of the modern secular world. He identifies three key lifestyles: individualism, hedonism and minimalism.
First, what’s individualism? Individualism is an attitude whereby I come to see myself as the center of the universe. The individualist will typically go through the course of his or her day asking himself or herself one question: “What’s in it for me?”
Secondly, what’s hedonism? Essentially, it is an attitude whereby I come to see the pursuit of my own personal pleasure as my primary concern in life. The hedonist will typically ask himself or herself this question: “How can I maximize the amount of pleasure in my life while minimizing the amount of pain and inconvenience which I must endure?”
Thirdly, what is minimalism? This is an attitude whereby I look to put in the minimum amount of effort that I possibly can into life, while reaping the maximum amount of reward. The minimalist will typically ask himself or herself questions such as these:
· “What’s the least amount I can possibly do at the workplace and still keep my job?” Or perhaps:
· “What’s the least amount I can possibly do at school and still get a good grade?”
There are many people in the world today who might “self-identify” as being “Christian”, if not “Catholic”, who are still giving their hearts very much to the so-called “spirit of the world”; whether we’re talking about the spirit of individualism, hedonism or minimalism. For instance, we can say that there are many Catholics in the world who go to Mass, say their prayers, and perhaps even occasionally eat fish on Fridays – who still govern most of their conduct by asking themselves this one simple question: “What’s in it for me?” Many of these people might still be very “kind” and “generous” to certain persons that they happen to know. Who isn’t from time to time? But perhaps, this sense of “kindness” and “generosity” is still governed by a pervasive sense of selfishness and self-interest. In other words: “I’ll be kind to you, but only insofar as you’re being kind back onto me!” And what is that but the spirit of individualism. Let’s take a different example. Again, we can say that there are many Catholics in the world today who go to Mass, say their prayers, and perhaps belong to certain religious clubs or organizations who still govern the bulk of their conduct by asking: “How can I get through the course of my day while incurring the least amount of pain or inconvenience to myself?” Many of these people might still be saying their prayers, perhaps even every day, but what’s often the real substance behind these prayers? “O Lord give me the things that I want, the things that I desire, the things that I believe to be essential to my own sense of happiness and well-being. But Lord, whatever you do: do not make me suffer, do not give me inconvenience, and do not give me pain! In other words, do not give me the Cross!” And that is the spirit of hedonism: the relentless and almost single-minded pursuit of one’s own personal pleasure as one’s ultimate concern. This takes us to our third example. Again, there are many Catholics in the world who go to church, go to confession, and even follow the Commandments who still perhaps ask themselves this question repeatedly: “How can I get myself into the kingdom of heaven, while putting the least amount of effort into my relationship with God?” These people might try their very best to avoid all sorts of serious sin. But, as we know from personal experience, there is a huge difference between simply trying to avoid “serious sin”, and actually trying our very best to please the Lord in all things, especially in those little details which perhaps no one else would ever notice, except Christ Himself! But that’s really the difference between being a “lukewarm Catholic” (or a “minimalist”) and being a true disciple of the Lord.
Universal Children's Day aims to create a day of international fraternity and understanding between children all over the globe. The holiday's secondary purpose is to promote the objectives and ideals of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child through activities and awareness. Children are the future of the planet, but they are a vulnerable group exposed to abuse and exploitation on a daily basis. As young dependents, children rely on adults for everything from food to shelter to education and it is imperative that their rights be heard if they are to survive and develop into the next generation of world citizens. Universal Children's Day was declared on in 1954 by the United Nations General Assembly as a day to be celebrated on November 20, the anniversaries of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which protect the human rights of children.
Universal Children's Day Facts & Quotes
· The UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 1989. The United States drafted and signed the treaty; however, it is currently the only member county that has not ratified it, meaning that the US is not legally bound by the Convention. Ratifying the treaty would go against certain laws currently in place in the US, most notably, the treaty forbids life imprisonment without parole for children under 18.
· According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day as a result of poverty, often due to preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
· As of 2013, 21.8 million children worldwide in their first year of life had not received adequate vaccine doses against diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
· The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty. - The World Food Programme
· What is at stake is nothing less than the survival and well-being of a generation of innocents. - Antonia Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Universal Children's Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Read the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to learn more about how these treaties can impact your community.
· Spend the day playing with your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren or other children that you know. Take them to the beach, a playground, a movie, or any other outing of their choosing.
· Donate your time to American organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or UNICEF that constantly need volunteers to organize and execute activities for children in needy communities.
· Watch a movie that touches on children's rights. Our picks are In This World (2012), Arna's Children (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008)