|The picture stays in my mind: an innocent 6-year-old, still mourning the death of his mother,
forced by a submachine gun to comply with a court order because the adults who want to help him can't find a
more creative solution. It worries and saddens me that any modern-day government would feel justified to
terrorize a child in a violent predawn raid. Haven't we gone beyond this kind of autocratic and dangerous
"any means to an end" thinking? Elián may have cried for "only five minutes" that fateful
morning, but there is no doubt that the memory of the predawn raid that took him by force will last forever in
My dream is that there will come a time when no little boy would be raised with so few examples of
compassion that he would become a man capable of terrorizing an innocent child with a submachine gun - simply
because his job requires it. Everyone would recognize this as the cowardly and cruel act that it is. It just
wouldn't happen. What more creative and compassionate solution might Janet Reno have been forced to discover
in that situation? Unfortunately for Elián, we will never know. Here is some advice for the Janet Renos of
the world: when the only solution you can find includes terrorizing an innocent child with a submachine gun,
In a unanimous ruling, the 11th Circuit Court ruled that any alien - even a child - can ask for asylum.
This ruling has worried those who fear the legal ramifications. If a child can ask for political asylum, what
other rights might children demand? Time writer Richard Lacayo wonders if first graders will be allowed
to sue their parents if they are punished1. Perhaps children should be given
this right. Punishment solves nothing and just makes a bad situation worse. It damages the bond between parent
and child, misses a golden opportunity to teach compassion by example, and is ultimately ineffective because
it ignores the underlying causes and the unmet needs that all "misbehavior" signals.
In Scandinavian countries, there are child ombudsmen that all children can turn to if they are not
receiving the loving care and compassion that every child needs and deserves to have. Children in those
countries have won the right to be heard when their human rights are overlooked. Soldiers, slaves, women, the
handicapped, gays, people of color, pets, and endangered animals have all had their day in court, and their
rights recognized. When will children, who should have been first on this list, finally gain their place on
it? When will we finally understand that children are human beings who deserve to be treated like human
beings? When will we listen to children?
Throughout this episode, I read the views of many people, but there was scarcely any discussion of
own feelings on the matter. If we have learned anything from his situation, I hope it is that all children
deserve to be heard, and to be treated with compassion at all times, even when the adults around them have run
out of creative solutions. "Any means to an end" is just not good enough for our children.