This post is adapted from a recent speech.
In 1787 a document was created... It's opening sentence reads... We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Those are the opening words of the United States Constitution.... And whether you are a Conservative or a Liberal, an Independent or a member of the Green Party, I cannot see any words within that sentence that you should disagree with. Yet, for many children in this country of ours, there is injustice every day of their lives, there is fear instead of domestic tranquility, there is no common defense, nor promotion of their general welfare, and the blessings of liberty has no security for us nor many of these children who are our future generations.
Why is this? Simple. As with all movements for change, there is a tipping point where what seems like isolated incidences or things that are not associated with other things later in life come to the forefront. And a nation or a society cannot ignore the cries for justice anymore. This is today. This is tomorrow. This is the days and the weeks and the months and years head. And all we must remember is WE ARE THE PEOPLE...
That is why I am so honored and humbled to speak here today... On this historic April 22nd 2013... In 47 States there are straight and gay couples, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, biological and adopted children all joined together for one cause... To raise awareness that child abuse affects all of us... Now when I say all of us. I mean all of us. Not just children. Not just teens. But as adults as well.
Listen very carefully...
66% percent of adults in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children.
80% of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
42% percent of children who are molested are suicidal by their teens.
Abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as an adult.
Sentencing in crimes against children typically carries 25 percent of the sentencing if the same crime was committed against an adult.
Child abuse and neglect in America is growing at a very high rate. And the most vulnerable is 0-6 in age. Thousands are being exploited and millions are in poverty and living on our streets across the nation.
124 billion is the minimum annual cost to the U.S. directly related to child abuse... Healthcare for mental illnesses and substance abuse... Child welfare and protection... Law enforcement and court systems to handle juvenile and adult criminal cases.
Those are very sobering statistics. But they also prove the most important statistic of all. That as Fredrick Douglas once said, "It is easier to build strong children than it is to fix broken men."
Justice Is Coming
But I have good news.. Justice is coming!
This leads me to my favorite word in the world... Justice!
So I say on behalf of those children who cannot speak anymore and for the countless children and adults who are afraid to speak... Justice is coming.
To the clergy who have sinned against our children... Justice is Coming!
To the friends and family members who have sinned against our children... Justice is Coming!
To the teachers and coaches who have sinned against our children... Justice is Coming!
To the neighbors and caretakers who have sinned against our children... Justice is Coming!
And to the politicians who have ignored your cries for too long... Justice is Coming!
Now what Justice do I speak of... Do I speak of the kind that can be bought... Do I speak of the kind that can be ignored... Do I speak of the kind that is temporary and forgotten...
No... I speak of the kind of Justice that no man or woman, no matter how rich or how powerful, no matter how well connected or no matter how well respected, can avoid...
I speak of the kind that changes nations, changes absolute norms and status quo's. And changes policy.
I speak of the kind that Ghandi once referred too... A kind where "There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts."
This is the Justice I speak of...
Conscience is Justice! And your conscience today begins a new chapter for this country of ours. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Plymouth Rock. From the Pacific to the Atlantic. From the streets of Compton to the halls of Congress. Your conscience has lit a fire for Justice for our children...
In the days of slavery voices of conscience fought for justice and won... In the days of women's suffrage voices of conscience fought for justice and won... In recent years, voices of conscience have fought for gay rights... And soon they will win... So today I say to you, that your voices of conscience who fight for justice for our children... History is on your side... and I will personally not rest until you win.
Be the One
This leads me to why I stand here today...
A few years ago I was given a nickname... The One! Having been a video gamer most of my young adult life I knew the significance of those words in the virtual realm. And of course in sci-fi movies like star wars or the matrix, We all have heard the immortal words... "The One who will bring balance to the force." But in every day use, in regular society, most of us hear the words in a romantic way. Who is The One? You're friends ask you. "Have you found The One?" Is she The One?" Is he The One?"
I then read something on Mother Teresa... And those two words had an entirely new meaning...
She said, "Be the One...Be the One who will satiate the Thirst. Instead of saying "I thirst" say "Be the One..."
And it occurred to me that the way she defined it was the way people we're referring it to me... I would do something no one else was doing... For example, fighting for native american children who have the highest rates of suicide in the nation and helping to get an executive order passed by the president or creating a foundation called CoreCause that instead of focusing on the effects of a crisis instead focused on the cause... and they would say you're The One James! You're The One! So I say to you all of you here today... Be The One!
If you are person of religious faith, Be The One to make sure your churches or temples or synagogues have policies to protect children. If you're a sports player, Be The One who sets an example for all other players, by letting all coaches and administrators know that they must create or enforce policies for all high school, and college sports. If you're a parent, Be The One who makes sure that your pre-schools, kindergartens and k-8 are protected by asking policy or assist in creating policy and let other parents know of these safeguards. If you work in the Justice system, Be The One who demands longer sentences for convicted child molesters. And when congress enacts bills to protect children, Be the One to lobby them and make sure they pass the legislation. But remember above all... Be The One that tells your family and you're friends when they say nothing can be done to make this world a better place for our children... Say to them... Be The One Dad, Be the One Mom, Be the One Brother, Be the One Sister, Be The One My Dear Friend, who in your own small world can do one thing for a child every single day... And then together as the creed of America entails E Pluribus Enum... We will truly out of many become One! One United States... One United People... With One United Goal of protecting Our most precious resource... Our true definition of National Security... Our children...