Past President's Message
"And the children of Israel groaned
and God heard their moaning and God remembered"
Each spring, my family has a Passover Seder, a family gathering and "feast" to commemorate the freeing of the Israelite slaves. We use the Haggadah to guide us through the evening and to tell the story. One section of the Haggadah that always provokes discussion is the verses quoted above from Exodus 2:23-24. You know the story. The Israelites are slaves, forced to build pyramids, abused and oppressed. They groan, cry out, and wail. God hears their moaning and he remembers his Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Really? God, who is all knowing, who speaks directly to Abraham, who wrestles with Jacob, has to be reminded to pay attention to the plight of the Hebrew slaves? Has He been too busy to notice? Was suffering in the world such a norm that He ignored their enslavement and cruel labor until their cries made him recall that He had sent them down to Egypt in the first place?
The discussion, however, that these verses provoke at our Seder table is not about God, but about ourselves. To quote Jonathan Safran Foer, "God's problem is our problem as well. We're masters of forgetting: about prejudice and unfairness, wars and genocides, hunger and misery." We are busy; we get distracted; we move on; we feel disconnected from the problems of others. Every now and then, however, the cries, moans, and wails rise up and remind us.
This past year, the wails rose up from the parents in Newtown Connecticut and reminded us of the need to protect children, reminded us of children's extreme vulnerability, reminded us that they are our future, and reminded us of the special place they have in our hearts. Suddenly children were in the news; children were on the lips of the ordinary and the famous. All of us, including regular citizens, mayors, governors, and congressmen, and the President himself, were reminded. And we remembered. We remembered our special covenant with children.
Actions to protect children from the harm of guns are underway and hopefully something substantial will be accomplished. The APA, the AAP, and the Pediatric Policy Council have always strongly supported gun control efforts and we have been a forceful voice in the recent discussions. We know, however, that guns are not the only threat to children. Poverty takes its toll on children as well. This country has forgotten that the poorest segment of our society is children, that while we have used government to care for the elderly we have not done as much for children, and that good government works when there is a will to use it properly and powerfully.
Pediatricians, however, have remembered that childhood poverty is the most important issue facing children today. The APA Task Force on Childhood Poverty was formed in the last year, with leaders from all parts of our organization, as well as leaders from the AAP and from the social sciences. We are developing a strategic agenda focusing on policy and advocacy, health care delivery, education, and research, the pillars of our organization. I welcome you to join our efforts.
The APA is not the only pediatric organization to refocus efforts on childhood poverty. I am delighted to say that the AAP has chosen "Child Health and Poverty" as its next strategic priority, committing the organization and its leadership to a serious focus on childhood poverty over the next several years. You will be hearing more about the efforts of both the APA and the AAP.
And for those of you going to PAS in Washington DC this year, please attend this State of the Art Plenary:
Session Number: 1600
A National Agenda to End Childhood Poverty
PAS State of the Art Plenary
Washington Convention Center ~ 202 B
Saturday, May 4, 2013; 2:45 pm - 4:45 pm
This plenary session is co-chaired by Paul Chung, the Chair of our Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, Tom McInerny, the President of the AAP, and me. It will bring together pediatricians, economists, social scientists, and policy experts to discuss the definition and measurement of childhood poverty, current US government policies affecting childhood poverty, health insurance for poor children, and comparisons to and lessons from the UK experience.
It is time for us, for pediatricians and pediatric health care providers, to raise our voices in unison, to cry out to leaders and policymakers and to the American people, to remind them of their commitment to children, to remind them of the toll of poverty on children and through them on the future of our nation, and to remind them that solutions are not out of reach.
Finally, I hope that all of you have enjoyed the recent holidays of Easter and Passover and have been able to spend some "quality" time with your loved ones and friends. I look forward to seeing many of you at PAS in a few weeks.
Let us raise our voices together for children!
Immediate Past President
Academic Pediatric Association
- December 2012
- October 2012
- August 2012
- June 2012
- April 2012
- February 2012
- August 2011
- June 2011
- April 2011
- February 2011