A heroic step forward for children
One year ago today, the world took a heroic step forward for children: On Nov. 20, 1989, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All the nations of that body - rich and poor, East and West - recognized that the future our children faced was simply too bleak in the absence of standards to guarantee their fundamental rights and that the time had come to act on their behalf.
As a Magna Carta for children, the convention established basic rights for children everywhere. Although the language of the convention (like most international agreements) was complex, its aims were both simple and eloquent: to meet the urgent needs of children and to give them hope for the future. We hoped that politicians would put aside their differences and cut through bureaucratic roadblocks. More than 50 nations have done just that and have ratified the convention; 129 have made a public commitment to ratify it as soon as possible.
I am saddened and concerned that the United State has done neither. Despite many appeals by members of Congress and concerned citizens, the convention has not gotten beyond the first step in the ratification process: review by the executive branch. When President Bush called children "the very future of freedom" in his State of the Union address, many of us LTC concerned about the well-being of children were optimistic that this administration would expedite review and approval of this historic document. As the weeks turned to months, we began to fear that the president's stirring words would not be translated into action.
For too long our children have borne the brunt of our delay, as well as our mistakes, our politics and our indifference. We cannot ask them to wait any more. I hope President Bush will not let this anniversary slip by without considering what we can do, what we should do and what we are not doing for our children.
ames J. Bausch
The writer is president of Save the Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving children's lives in the United States and 38 other countries.
A Jewish patriot
Even in his death they continue to slander him. The second political leader to be slain by an Arab terrorist in the United States (Bobby Kennedy was the first), Rabbi Meir Kahane was not a racist or a fascist; he was a Jewish patriot. If to be a Jewish patriot is to be called a "racist" well so be it. But this says more about the accuser than the accused.
Kahane believed that the Jewish people had a book (the Torah) to shape their lives. He wanted Israel, a Jewish state, to come closer to the moral and God-given laws in the Torah, and he was right.
He also believed that the Jewish people had a right to live and that implacable enemies who slaughter Jews and call for the destruction of the Jewish state had no right to continue to do so. For years Rabbi Kahane warned that the Arabs would never accept the state of Israel no matter how many material benefits they received. He predicted the intifada and Saddam Hussein.
I had the honor of knowing Meir Kahane, of seeing him in his home with his children and grandchildren. Kahane had a brilliant mind, an excellent sense of humor and a deep understanding of Jewish history and religion. And he was not afraid to speak the truth.
He had his shortcomings - he was after all, only human, and none of us is perfect. But the bottom line on Meir Kahane is that he was a genius, a great Jew, a great man, and - given the chance ` he would have been a great leader of Israel.
BIn Baltimore, there will be a memorial service for Rabbi Kahane at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Shaarei Zion Congregation on Park Heights Avenue. Prominent rabbis and laymen will address the gathering.
The writer is a Baltimore rabbi.
Hundreds of souls walk the streets of our city daily. Some catch our attention because of their loud, and sometimes obscene, discussions with themselves. Others prefer to go unnoticed, leaving the security of their doorway only briefly to ask for spare change or to pick up some old newspapers lying on the sidewalk to use for insulation from the cold. Others still wander aimlessly, seeming to look for only understanding and, possibly, compassion.
We prefer not to see him. Not to make eye contact because actually looking into his eyes might acknowledge his existence. We may actually see in his eyes some glimmer of the person he once was, some understanding may overcome us as to what circumstances could have caused his downfall. This person was, at some time, important to someone. He may have been an altar boy or could have attended the most prestigious schools in the city. He may also be an alcoholic, a drug addict or hopelessly mentally ill. He may or may not understand his situation. No one can honestly believe that, given a choice or the mental facilities -- necessary to make an informed decision, any person would choose to live on the streets.
As we approach yet another holiday season, we should be reminded that compassion for others should occur not just during the cold winter months. The same faces that appear on the evening news, pleading for the opening of emergency shelters, exist year round.
Kristin L. Olsson
Regarding the recent Democratic gains in Congress, I feel that the votes of many oldsters on Social Security were both a goodly and good part of the tail that wagged the political dog.
I fully agree with Joan J. Huber's view (Forum, Nov. 12). However, after an alcohol-related accident, a visit to the Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore may be too late.
Why not make the visit mandatory the day the learner's permit is issued to a teen-ager?
Karl H. Auch