GNRC Third Forum
In the Name of God
Hon. Seyed Mohammad Ali Abtahi
President, Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, and former Vice President, Islamic Republic of Iran
Children determine the fate of our planet and neglecting them would equal neglecting the earth, life, the future and hope. Children are human history and forgetting them would equal forgetting memories, history and innocence.
Therefore, the world of childhood is an amalgamation of hope and memories. Do the chaos and confusion of the current world not root in the disappearance of hope, discoloration of memories and negligence of the world of children?
Our world is on the verge of disappointment in man for he has reneged on his commitment to his reminiscent past and has lost his hope for the future. However, the God of religions still has hope in man, for the birth of a child demonstrates that God has not lost His hope in man yet. Children have an amazing closeness to the divine world of the religions. Children's God is the most similar to the God of religions. The image of God that a child has in mind is not merely that of "a creator of the universe." Before a child identifies God with "creation" and "origination," he/she knows him as the tenderness of rain, the warmth of sunshine, the white of snow and the beautiful colors of tree leaves. Children's God is more real and more intimate. You can strike a deal, trade, fight or even argue with adults' God whereas with children's God you can only chat, share wishes and wants, have mutual trust, and find peace in His arms. It seems as though there is a reverse relationship between spiritual maturity and physical maturity. Sacredness reverses the law of maturity. It was for this reason that the Christ impatiently wanted to keep away from his argumentative disciples so that he could join the children. He repeatedly said that anyone who dose not accept God's sovereignty like a child will not find entrance into it. Similarly, Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, let children ride on his shoulders so that he could smell heaven's breeze more clearly. In the dictionary of genuine religious thought, sacredness is not a waster of childhood but what perfects it.
The sin of ignoring the world of children should be registered in the record of leaders, politicians, decision-makers and protectors of religions. If we are interested in the fate of the planet; if we are waiting for a creative generation; if we want the expansion of hope in human life; if decrease of poverty and disappearance of violence are our ideals, we should unhesitatingly think of children's fate. What is children's share of political and religious leaders' decision-making? Is there no possibility of making laws that have children and their world as an axis? Is it not possible that with inspiration by the innocence and simplicity of the world of children, large-scale decisions be made which are full of justice, free of prejudice and based on equality? Political and religious leaders of the world should learn from children as much as they try to teach them. We should not forget that children have the closest similarity to philosophers in that they regard everything with awe and respect. In the same way that a philosopher considers all beings worthy of reflection and contemplation, children pay attention to everything; everything has an identity and is meaningful to them; they feel the weight of existence in all beings and finally consider themselves a part of them-not a separate entity.
We have always tried to teach children but now, it is about time we learnt from them and were inspired by them. If we are into politics, we should learn tolerance and equality from them. If we are into saving our planet and its environment, we should learn from children how to respect nature. Without doubt, we should integrate these lessons and inspirations into our decisions, policies, laws and actions and design our legal, political, educational, religious and international systems with hope and based on the axial importance of children.
I assume that we all agree with the Iranian poet who titled his book "I am afraid of a childless world." The world has never been free of the physical presence of children but we all verify that in today's world, the "metaphysical" concept of childhood does not have a suitable place in our political, religious and social life. The absence of children from the world is equal to the absence of hope, future, creativity, religiousness and tolerance.
Let us announce one more time that we are afraid of a childless world.