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December 18, 2012 9:02 am

The Amend Corner: Red and yellow, black and white

Written by Don Amend

Recently, we were treated, by way of the Internet, to a musical performance by a group that might just have a future.

The mini-concert came when our Minnesota grandchildren visited their cousin Kana, on the occasion of her birthday. After the presents were revealed and the cake and ice cream consumed, the kids vanished into another room, from which the sounds of children playing and singing emanated while the adults visited.



After a while, the three emerged, toting a toy guitar, a real guitar — just the right size to serve as a stand-up bass for a 7-year-old — and a ukulele, with a song to perform. Courtesy of our daughter’s camera, we were able to enjoy the show.

What we heard was a performance of an old Sunday School song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” beginning with an andante sing-through, delivered a cappella, in spite of what appeared to be spirited strumming on the instruments. On the second run-through, they upped the tempo to allegro, a bit too fast for such young tongues, especially since there was a little giggling when energetic singing popped a tiara off a head. Then came a nice ritard to largo on the last line, after which they received a round of applause.

After watching the video several times, I wondered how the kids, all of whom are of Asian or Eurasian descent, related to the song’s declaration that “red or yellow, black or white, they are precious in his sight.” My daughter had evidently talked about that with Mattea who, after considering her skin, declared that it was not yellow, but the color of sand. Even though she doesn’t fit into the four traditional color schemes, she firmly believes Jesus loves her.

In her 5-year-old wisdom, she believes we are all alike to God.

Over the weekend, thanks to the magic of Skype, we again visited with Mattea and her little brother Arun, and saw their cousins Linnaea and Cormac as well, listening to their accounts of school and laughing at their little minds’ perceptions of the world. Linnaea and Cormac have just moved to Haiti, and are busy making friends in a new school and adjusting to a new routine, which for Linnaea, will include French lessons. Mattea is closing in on a reading goal at school and, as a brand new Daisy Scout, is looking forward to selling cookies in a couple of months, while her brother is busy mastering a game on an iPad, and, from all accounts, enjoying popularity with the young ladies at day care.

In other words, they are just being kids.

But a shadow hung over the calls. The atrocity in Connecticut last week never came up as we visited, but the reports of that event lurked in the back of my mind during both conversations.

Both of our granddaughters began kindergarten this year, and Mattea’s cousin Kana is in the first grade, exactly the age of the innocent children one twisted mind chose to massacre for reasons that will probably never be known, let alone understood.  None of our grandchildren live within 1,000 miles of the site of the murders, but it doesn’t take much imagination to think that they could be the next victims, and to feel the pain of those who lost children in Connecticut.

Still, one can’t dwell on the possibility of a mad killer invading your child’s school. Despite the publicity surrounding this and similar crimes in shopping malls, political rallies and even houses of worship in recent years, children are much more likely to be killed at home or in automobiles than in school. Protecting our children is much more complicated than locking more doors, arming more people or passing restrictive gun laws. Evil will always find a way into our lives despite our best efforts to stop it.

Still, I firmly believe in the truth of the song that I watched three little kids sing, that Jesus does love all the little children. But the Sunday School song also contains an implicit mandate: each of us must love all the children of the world as well, even though we are all the color of sand, and don’t fit neatly into the boxes — red, yellow, black, white — that we are assigned.

Our failure to meet that mandate—and I personally have failed it many times in my life — is the root cause of incidents such we saw last week.

I don’t know if the trio I heard sing last week has a musical future, but they do have the right to a future of some kind. So did 20 other kids who were robbed of that future last week, kids just like my grandchildren

As a free people, we have to do a better job of protecting that right.

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