Originally published in the WFCF Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2015
“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” –Confucian tradition
What does this Confucian tradition have to do with promoting the health and welfare of suffering children who are disabled and orphaned?
Let’s begin by examining mankind’s basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. In the West, most of us are privileged to enjoy having our basic needs met through our own efforts or if necessary, support of the federal and state government or charities. While many of us view our basic needs as a given and, in some cases, an entitlement, the same is not true in other parts of the world. At this writing, over one million Syrians have been displaced by civil war, many carrying all of their possessions in a trash bag or suitcase in search of refuge in Turkey and Jordan. In Syria, starvation and disease are widespread among those on the “wrong side” of the civil war--yet, food and medical personnel are readily available within one or two miles of the areas inhabited by the refugees, but only for those willing to accede to the demands of the ruling party. For those able to flee Syria, refugee camps have been established to house hundreds of thousands of émigrés who hold little hope of ever returning to their homeland or life as they once knew it. Syria is hardly alone in this regard—on the African subcontinent and throughout Asia less fortunate and politically/spiritually misaligned peoples have been displaced, tortured, forced to marry and bear children, and slaughtered in the name of political and religious causes. Does meeting the basis needs of these refugees contribute to “peace in the world” or does it merely salve our collective conscience in that we are lessening the plight of those who have been uprooted and live nomadically?
I believe our right motivation to help those less fortunate is the key ingredient in restoring wholeness to those less fortunate. At World’s Forgotten Children Foundation providing food, clothing and shelter is tangible evidence of our caring attitude for those disabled children who are orphaned, all too often by embarrassed families. Now, imagine attempting to flee a hostile land by wheelchair or depending on another person to carry you to safety. Then imagine doing this on sand in blistering heat. Or, imagine being kidnapped from school or home and forced to marry and bear the children of a member of an extreme religious sect.
Meeting the basic needs of suffering children who are disabled and orphaned requires more of us than giving our time and money. We are called to live harmoniously in the home, however and wherever we find it, for harmony in the home will lead to order in the nation. Our homes and workplaces provide plenty of opportunity for practicing the Confucian tradition, all I might add in comfortable surroundings. However, even a refugee camp can provide the environment in which each person gives thanks for what life has provided and a decision to live for the betterment of someone else. By seeking to remove selfishness and separateness from the world through meeting the needs of the downtrodden, we embrace righteousness in our hearts, beauty in our character, harmony in our home and order in our nation. Our calling, ever mindful of the many hardships faced by those who are disabled and orphaned or displaced by non-physical circumstances, is to live for others. Please join us.