The tumultuous and constantly changing political context of the National Capital Region has left me unbalanced recently, and somewhat uncertain… not my usual stance. That is, until the story of the death of a poor, Black baby on Christmas Day came to my attention. This ends my silence.
Her name is Trinity and she died malnourished, after suffering multiple rib fractures from three traumatic events, according to the Washington Post Editorial Board on Sunday. This four-pound premature infant weighed less at the end than at the beginning of her life. I imagine that each of the few days she survived was challenged by the sheer, overwhelming and the stressful circumstances of her journey. I envision that her biological instinct to seek a predictable, soothing response from her parents, around the clock, was frustrated routinely. In reality, the deprivation and her inability to attach to caregivers due to inadequate and inconsistent care, became life threatening.
Long ago, another baby found his first home in shabby, menial conditions….a manger. He was born to parents who fully recognized their special responsibility. Thousands of years later, a singular message of love, for God, and for others, emerged from this humble place, leading to the widespread recognition and celebration of Christmas Day. Trinity’s early demise in her first home on Christmas Day, her “manger story” in effect, was launched publicly in the media. What do we now understand about the stark realities faced by children and families within our community? What future do we hope for? What future must we create?
I believe that Trinity’s short and tragic time in our world serves a purpose. It reminds us that we are all responsible for the children in our midst. Literally, all of us. Otherwise, we fail to establish the compassionate supports needed to address the best interests of each and every child. So we develop the community’s will to make certain that this tragedy does not happen again. So our families provide every child with a safe and nurturing childhood, a fundamental entitlement in a civilized, moral society.
So no more children die in their manger.