Suffer the Little Children | Sojourners

Suffer the Little Children

Fictional character Miss Jean Brodie from Muriel Spark's novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, famously quipped, "Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life!"

Miss Jean Brodie is a protofascist, who chooses certain girls to mold into her image. Underlining her philosophy of education is two assumptions: 1) Children are impressionable, 2) They can be remade into her images. In the end of both the novel and film version, she is betrayed by one of her girls, Sandy, which undercuts her philosophy. Miss Brodie can hold sway over the children for a little while, but in the end, they find their own way. The kernel of truth is that children desperate for love can be for a time be forced into another's image. Therefore, children become a tempting target for indoctrination into all sorts of evil.

Can we be really surprised that many seek out children for their violent ends? The report in The New York Times about the use of children soldiers by our allies in Somalia is both disturbing and predictable. Doe-eyed boys, carrying fully loaded Kalashnikovs, playing war with real human blood should more than make us pause. The fact that U.S. tax payers could possibly be funding such violations of childhood should cut us all to the core. Jesus weeps for the children.

We should be ashamed of ourselves for not signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We join only Somalia in not signing this pact, which says that no child under 15 should be a soldier. Jesus had much to say about those who lead children to stumble. Christians of all political stripes should demand that this be put to an end. There can be no defense for turning kids into killing machines.

Miss Jean Brodie serves a stark reminder of thinking we can mold and use children for evil. Her downfall came from one of her girls. Will we one day be betrayed by the children we have armed? Let us not wait to find out but fight to stop this practice.

portrait-ernesto-tinajero1Ernesto Tinajero is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington, who earned his master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. Visit his blog at