And How are the Children?

from a speech by Rev. Dr. Patrick T. O’Neill
Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church of Wilmington DE

children running and walking on brown sand surrounded with trees during daytime
Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn that the traditional greeting passed between Masai warriors was: “Kasserian Ingera”.

It means, “And how are the children?”

four boy playing ball on green grass

It is still the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai always place on their children’s well being.

selective focus photography of girl hugging boy

Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer,

“All the children are well.”

Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place.

four children standing on dirt during daytime

That Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions, and responsibilities. “All the children are well” means that life is good. It means that the daily struggles for existence do not preclude proper caring for their young.

five children smiling while doing peace hand sign

How might it affect our consciousness of our children’s welfare if in our culture we took to greeting each other with this daily question: “And how are the children?”

girl's left hand wrap around toddler while reading book during golden hour

If we hear that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, would it begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of or care about in our own country?

woman hugging boy on her lap
What if every adult among us, parent, and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community, in our town, in our state, in our country?

What if we could truly say without any hesitation, “The children are well, yes, all the children are well?”

child and parent hands photography
What would it be like if board members, administrators, counselors, teachers began every meeting or conversation by answering the question, “And how are the children?”

girl with paint of body

If every town leader had to answer the question at the beginning of every meeting: “And how are the children? Are they all well?”

grayscale photography two toddlers standing outdoors
Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear their answers?