by Craig Juntunen
This weekend, various television and written media pieces have showcased a remarkable social event that took place 50 years ago. Throughout the early 1960’s, talks began amongst civil rights leaders for a large protest that would fight against discrimination. They hoped such a demonstration would bring the need for civil rights for all Americans to the forefront of the nation, placing pressure on lawmakers to change discriminatory laws.
The great March on Washington took place on August 28, 1963 and changed the American way of life, not just for black people, but for all people. Martin Luther King, standing in front of the Lincoln memorial, delivered his historic “I have a Dream” speech and our values about racial harmony began to shift.
I was eight years old when the March on Washington happened, too young to admire the remarkable leadership and courage of the civil rights activists of the time. Now as a 58 year old, I deeply respect those that were no longer willing to accept the unacceptable, and were willing to take a stand irrespective of the consequences. At eight years of age I failed to understand how fierce and violent the opposition to civil rights was. I do now, which furthers my respect for the strength of character for those men and women who laid it on the line. They were trying to reshape values that existed for hundreds of years and were deeply rooted in the human condition of many people. There was an emotional divide between what was right and what was wrong. Most felt nothing needed to be changed, because nothing was wrong.
Reliving the social movements of the past is very inspiring because it proves things can and will change, even stubborn cultural norms handed down from generation to generation.
Now I am part of a new activist group advocating for children’s rights. We prioritize a child’s right as a right to belong in a family. When I started Both Ends Burning I had many flawed assumptions. From those early days, I have developed a great appreciation for how difficult it is to produce social change. Like all activist groups promoting change we face fierce opposition and resistance. As the founder of the Both Ends Burning Campaign, our plan is to follow the blueprints produced by the bold leadership to move the cultural needle. Over the last few years we have come to accept that we can’t quit on these kids just because there are obstacles and producing lasting change will be difficult.
Our activism has a unique degree of difficulty, compared to the civil rights movement. Many involved in the civil rights movement were fighting for themselves, their lives and the rights of their family and many of their friends and neighbors. Both Ends Burning is advocating and fighting for kids who few know, and are easily discounted because they are out of sight, tucked away in orphanages in scattered corners of the world.
If we are going to succeed in encouraging the world to utilize adoption to provide a permanent family for at risk kids stuck in orphanages, then we are going to have to find ways to make these kids matter. The primary oppositional forces of the civil rights movement were cultural norms (prejudice). Our oppositional force is social apathy. People are sympathetic about kids living in orphanages, but today they are not passionate about doing something about it. Mobilizing a population, whether it is for civil rights in 1963 or the right of a child to belong in a family in 2013 requires a passionate willingness to take action and make a sacrifice.
Our success is predicated on growing individual involvement in our campaign and securing the financial resources to become a loud voice for kids who are invisible to our daily lives. We are fighting powerful and well-funded NGO’s who have an agenda to NOT include adoption as a solution for these kids even though we have an available and abundant number of families worldwide who would like to adopt these at risk kids. We are hoping once our message surfaces that people will join our movement because they feel a sense of passion about protecting kids living outside of parental care.
It is estimated there are thousands of new orphans each day and the question is, what are we doing about it? A more important question is, are we really doing the best we can for these children who need our help? Relative to facilitating at risk children to join a family, what we are doing isn’t really working.
THAT CAN CHANGE! We can make adoption part of the solution. We can learn from and become inspired by the brave and courageous leadership from years ago. The learning from the past is real clear. The most powerful lesson from 50 years ago is that there is great power in numbers. Two hundred and fifty thousand people said enough is enough on August 28, 1963 forcing history to tell us when the people will lead the leaders will follow.
Forgotten children all over the world need YOUR help.
Please make the effort to become a member of our campaign today.
Thank you very much,
PS: Today, August 26th happens to be our family day.
For seven years Amelec, Espie and Quinn have provided me with daily motivation to fight for every kid left behind.