As I read the news from multiple sources about children being taken away from family and placed in detention, I find myself stunned at the denial of harm, the justification of inhumanity, and the rationalization of the negation of compassion, all under the banner of Christian compliance with law. Whose law? The law of man? The law of God? The law of nature?
The laws and procedures in place today…are man made. And thus are to be questioned by all of humanity. Would you blindly comply with the laws regarding children in 18th century England?
If a child was not sold into employment he or she would inevitably end up homeless and living on the streets, in all manner of weather amongst the raw sewage, rotting animal and vegetable waste, rats, disease, and bad water. Many slum children had to endure filthy conditions as they fought a daily battle for survival.
Age 11: 14 days gaol + 5 years Reformatory for Stealing a Coat
Age 12: 14 days gaol + 5 years Reformatory for Stealing Boots
Age 11: 1 day gaol and whipped, for Stealing Pigeons
Age 9: 1 day gaol and whipped, for Stealing Pigeons [three boys]
Age 13: Trial at the Assizes, accused of Murder
Age 12: 21 days gaol + 5 years Reformatory, for Stealing Money
Age 13: 14 days gaol, for Stealing an Umbrella.
Source: Old Police Cells Museum
John Greening, age 11 charged with stealing a quarter of gooseberries (growing). Punishment: one calendar month of hard labor and five years reformatory.
John Hillesley, age 15 charged with stealing a coat. Punishment: transportation to a penal colony in a different country.
Joseph Lewis, age 11 charged with simple larceny for stealing 28 pounds of iron. Punishment: one calendar month of hard labor.
Source: The national Archives
Just for a moment image the fear that would have you leave home, family, friends and run to the unknown? And then…imagine for another moment having your child removed from your arms and not knowing where she is or if you will ever be reunited.
Why are we not guided by the laws of compassion, loving kindness, equanimity…or even empathy?