Book Review of The Sea is so Wide and my Boat is so Small
Ever been to a dinner party where you felt uncomfortable about someone's crude, demeaning joke, but you sat silently? On a rare occasion, there's at least one brave soul at the table who's willing to speak out against the offense. Marian Wright Edelman is the mother, lawyer and activist who's willing to speak up when others won't. She once again shows her eloquence in fighting for children's rights in her book The Seas is so Wide and my Boat is so Small
. She notes with urgency how US children are starving for nourishment and attention, being abused, literally dying for someone to care about them.
This award-winning author and founder of the Children's Defense Fund points out injustice after injustice that threaten children's lives and futures. She notes the largest ever recorded gap between rich and poor, what she considers unfair tax breaks for the wealthy, and children dying of preventable diseases. This book is relevant to the current political maneuvering over federal budget cuts, because Edelman says some programs that help many families and children survive are in danger.
The book is written as a series of letters to various societal groups, from the children to faith leaders to political leaders. Personal responsibility is a strong theme throughout the book and is stressed in the section devoted to parents. She addresses the sometimes unpopular topic of how media can be toxic to our children -- how they don't need a television in each of their bedrooms. The chapter on parenting should be required for all expectant parents, because it touches on issues we all should consider before taking on the huge responsibility. Edelman also calls communities to action.
Edelman writes, "It is time for parents, adults, and leaders in all race and income groups to break our silence about the pervasive breakdown of moral, family, community, and national values; to place our children first in our lives and struggle harder to model the behavior we want our children to learn. We do not have a child and youth problem in the United States but we have a profound adult problem as our children do what they see adults doing."
Despite the scolding and truth-telling, Edelman's voice comes through as one that also inspires. She offers guidance on conscientious parenting, suggestions for how the faith community can create positive change, and steps for the country's leaders to help children.
I am most touched by the section of prayers that Edelman uses to close the book. In her "Letter to God" Edelman prays for an end to poverty. She also writes a poem that borrows from the scripture where Jesus lets the little children come to him. "He did not say let only rich or middle-class white children come. He did not say let only the strapping boys but not the girls come. He did not say let only the able-bodied children come. All the children He bade come."
Book royalties from The Seas is so Wide and my Boat is so Small go to the Children's Defense Fund
. It's a quick read and a thoughtful gift idea. Learn more at the CDF website about asking government leaders to consider children during the next round of budget cuts for 2012. The CDF site includes tips on how you can get involved.