February 6, 1999
Dear Members of the Oakland City Council:
Since the middle of the last century, there has been a great wave of enlightenment and liberation throughout the world. In our own country, our ancestors saw an end to slavery. Soon, African-Americans won the right to vote. Finally, women did too. In our own time, we have seen women and people of color make tremendous gains, not only in our own country, but in many nations of the world. We have seen the Berlin Wall fall and Apartheid in South Africa come to an end. In fact, Nelson Mandella, once its prisoner, became its leader.
Human rights is making advances everyday throughout the world because we are reaching a higher level of moral development. We are becoming aware of and sensitive to the issues of those who are different than us in religion, ethnicity, color, gender, and lifestyle. We are now, as a society, just beginning to feel empathy for those of a different age -- those who are older than us and those who are younger than us.
We now have it in our capacity to have empathy for children and their struggle. Their struggle is not political for they are so oppressed because of their size and neediness that they have little, if any, say at all in their lives. It is for those of us who were once in their place to fight for their freedom. But, yes, children struggle, too, not in marches in the street or in sit-ins or in boycotts, but in the way they struggle every day to be heard and to be recognized as people with rights.
We now have it in our capacity to become more enlightened and to see that children suffer, that children are treated like property, that children are abused in ways that we never recognized before. All we ask of you today is that you recognize the struggle of children by passing a resolution that will encourage greater respect for children.
You can make history today like the congress that ended slavery made history, like the congress that gave women the right to vote made history, like Rosa Parks made history. Or you can make history like Robert E. Lee once made history or like George Wallace once made history when he stood in front of a doorway of a school. Which kind of history do you want to make today?
Blythe and David Daniel
Professors of Psychology
Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles, CA