On November 20, 1989 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an international convention outlining in the language of human rights those basic accommodations and liberties that societies across the globe agree should be accorded to children regardless of individual difference or background. It is a sweeping document that speaks to the highest hopes we have for our children.
As of December, 2008 the CRC has been ratified by 193 nations, including every member of the United Nations – except the United States and Somalia. President Obama has called our failure to ratify the CRC “embarrassing,” but other voices in the United States have called on our country to avoid ratification – not for any lack of agreement over the rights and needs of children, but because they do not believe we should be accountable to any foreign body on matters of domestic policy.
The followers of Jesus were impressed by the authority with which he spoke to leaders of church and state, they were amazed by the miracles of healing he performed. They were also puffed up with pride at being in his company, and they began to ask each other who was greatest among them. Jesus replied by setting a child in the middle of their company and stating, “whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:35-37).
Our greatness as a nation is not measured by the degree of independence and autonomy we exercise in relation to other nations, but rather the ways we care for and protect those who are most dependent and vulnerable in our community. Imagine what a different world it would be if that was the standard by which we judged who was the greatest.