Jesus loves the little children

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

This is one of the first songs I learnt as a child. I have recordings my parents made of my brother and sister and I singing it, my squeaky little voice chiming in with “Jesuh luvvah little pouldren”. How could Jesus not love little pouldren? They’re so cute and delightful and innocent.

I’ve been pondering this song again in recent days. Last week nine such children (in this case brown, not black, red, yellow or white) – aged between 7 and 9 – were gunned down by a U.S. helicopter while collecting firewood in the mountains of Afghanistan. A tenth boy escaped, severely injured, and deeply traumatised by watching his brothers and friends shot to pieces.

Yet did this make the news? Not in Australia. Was there outrage? Not in the NATO or ISAF countries. A shrug, an apology, mutterings about “collateral damage” at best.

Imagine for a moment this had happened in Australia. Nine children gunned down while collecting firewood. The response would be incendiary. Jesus might love the little children, but we appear not to – not if they’re Afghan, anyway.

What does “Jesus love the little children” mean when our “friends” and “allies” are gunning them down?

I assume by “Jesus loves the little children” most Christians mean “Jesus wants all the little children to accept him into their heart so they can go to heaven when they die” rather than “Jesus wants the little children to have long happy productive peaceful lives where they aren’t killed by helicopter gunships.” I assume we mean something like, “I hope Jesus makes everything ok” rather than, “As the hands and feet of Jesus in the world I need to demonstrate love to the children of Afghanistan.”

But maybe you and I are the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s certainly what Paul was thinking when talked about the church as the Body of Christ. Could it be that “Jesus loves the little children” might mean you and I need to put ourselves in the way of these little children being harmed? Could it be that it means you and I need to demand our government stop with the bullets and the bombs so that Afghan children can live without the fear of Hellfire missiles landing on their homes, or white men with guns bursting into their houses in the middle of the night?

I suspect “Jesus loves the little children” means that Afghan children are no less precious than your children and my children. But how will they know if we don’t show them?

For more info on the ways the NATO and ISAF forces continue to tolerate Afghan “collateral damage,” see this meticulously researched article by Afghans for Peace.

2 thoughts on “Jesus loves the little children

  1. should we have left the Taliban in place? not so good at caring for the little children, particularly the girls.

    schooling is now more viable for many

    that being so, at least limited military action post 911 might be considered beneficial in some ways – not withstanding the terrible tragedies you mention, some things have probably changed for the better – its worth noting those as well, even if it makes a less one sided picture

    the motivation was never primarily about freeing children, i’ll concede that. But i do think a sovereign state can consider military response after 911. Whether it needs to continue now, when most people think Al Qaeda has shifted out of Afghanistan and the miltiary presence is potentially just aggravating locals, is another question.

    you might be the salt that helps limit the action and raise the status of injustice, but its perhaps worth acknowledging that the questions are complex; the results have not all been bad, that Afghanistan could conceivably return to its state of being run by warlords, opium dependence and Taliban rule : and that just pulling out now might not be the best way to proceed – even though continued presence is dangerous for all and potentially polarises some against the west

    i just think the questions are complex and it might help to acknowledge some of that – in complex times, there are not always simple solutions left such as ‘pull out now’ – sometimes there are only degrees of bad decisions left.

    seems Obama would pull out of an expensive and dangerous war if he could, i think – but letting the place fall apart after they leave is not in anyones interest either, hence the hesiitation

    just offering some reflection and perhaps counterbalance

    peace and grace to you and your efforts to bring peace to the world!

    • Hey Rob, thanks for interacting. I think it’s a false dichotomy to see it as a choice between invading and occupying a country for ten years (and more) or leaving the Taliban in place. There are many more desirable scenarios.

      In fact, few Afghans other than rich elites believe the Western military presence has changed things for the better. They are now squeezed between two enemies; the Taliban on the ground, and the allies from the air.

      Of course the issues are complex (I’ve not denied that) but the one I’ve addressed here is simple – the inherent racism of Australians considering Afghan children to be acceptable collateral damage, where “our” children would not. That our militaries are slaughtering children. Some more children are in school (still the majority are not) but most of them are terrified and traumatised. The question is one of compassion, not action vs inaction.

      The balance needed is compassion, which is sadly lacking in what passes for news.

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