Advertising aimed at children is so prevalent in our lives that many people think it’s okay. But child-development experts for years have said that ads on kids' TV shows, for example, constitute an unfair assault on impressionable minds that aren’t old enough to appraise the sales pitch.

"Yes, we have no advertising"  Excerpt from Raffi's article in
the Globe and Mail.


Back to all Speeches and Essays


Investing in our Children's Future: A Child Honouring Vision

—Starting with a “rainstorm” involving the audience—

Aahh… nothing like a communal shower to bring us together!

I came from Vancouver-from the west coast of Canada, where we have ample rain-to be with you here today… but I was born in Cairo, Egypt where I lived for 10 years, and in 1958 my Armenian parents moved our family to Canada.

For 25 years now I’ve had the pleasure of making music for young children and their families all over Canada and the United States, with recordings and concerts that invite us to sing together. And so, I’m known as a children’s troubadour.

On occasion, I’ve enjoyed singing with children abroad. A few months ago I was in northern India, and I was joined by the voices of Tibetan children who sang “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… every day, every day, I’m going to let my little light shine.” And it’s on behalf of this little light that I am here-to help inspire all of us to move towards a society that honours its young… a child honouring society. No, not a child-centered society where children rule. But a society that-by its actions- earns the allegiance of its children, one where the elders may be worthy of their children’s love.

Although we have gathered here from many lands-from all around the globe-we all have a common origin that we don’t often think about… not a place really… but a time, a time we knew in our youth. For we all come from a time called childhood… and the children that we today are talking of helping… they are really you and me, just a few years ago.

Investing in children’s futures… to me, that’s not a future activity, but something to do this day and every day… and I’m not speaking now of monetary investment, but other kinds… I speak of intangible investments …that are born of a feeling, that spring from our hearts… that come from a way of seeing the child as a whole person, a legitimate person in her own right, a being as whole at a young age as we in our adult years may be.

I want to read you something.

On New Year’s eve 1998, I stayed in a quiet house in Virginia-not far from here-at the University that U.S. President Thomas Jefferson built some two hundred years ago. And while reading again his historic Declaration of Independence , I wondered how a contemporary paper might likewise view children, and I came up with what I call…

A Covenant for Sustaining Children

We find these joys to be self evident:
That all children are created whole, endowed with innate
intelligence, with dignity and wonder, worthy of respect.
The embodiment of life, liberty and happiness,
children are original blessings,
here to learn their own song.
Every girl and boy is entitled
to love, to dream and belong to a loving “village.”
And to pursue a life of purpose.

We affirm our duty
to nourish and nurture the young,
to honour their caring ideals as the heart of being human.
To recognize the early years as the foundation of life,
and to cherish the contribution of young children
to human evolution.

We commit ourselves to peaceful ways
and vow to keep from harm or neglect
these, our most vulnerable citizens.
As guardians of their prosperity
we honour the bountiful Earth
whose diversity sustains us.
Thus we pledge our love
for generations to come.

When we honour the child, we engage in a covenant that will give fruit in countless ways… benefiting all of us… bearing a return many times over what we gave, in the goodness, the joy and creativity that ripples out from such love.

Individually and as a society, let us make the best form of investment in our young-the kind that cherishes them, not only for who they might be later or what they might some day give to society, but for who they are now. Love for who the young child is NOW, for the immense intelligent joy that resides in every playful human being at the start of life… and that enriches all of us.

In our current global reality, the young of our world-humanity’s children-in all manner of societies now face unprecedented and cumulative threats to their health… even mothers’ milk is now tainted with toxins. Given what we know, to not respond sufficiently makes no sense. Our opportunity, on the other hand-and our duty-is to engage fully not only the welfare of our children, but also the issue of our very survival as a humane species.

All over this planet we call home, the young human animal now needs the love and support of the whole human village as never before, in order to secure a sustainable future. It needs a society that honours its young.

Before I go, I want to ask you this: when you leave here today, would you please take the time to simply imagine the benefits of a child honouring society-one whose love and respect for its children takes precedence in all its institutions, its laws, and its customs?

Let me leave that question with you, while I close with a new song I’ve written, inspired by Dr. Fraser Mustard… this a song based on an old African proverb.

—It Takes a Village—

Share |