Let me make clear that I am in no way suggesting that we should stop school breakfasts. Having oft en seen firsthand the impact of poverty and hunger among American children, I know that if we did, many kids would not get breakfast at all. In a perfect world, the government wouldn't have to feed children a breakfast because their parents would be doing the job. But as you may have noticed, we don't live in a perfect world. My own church is actively involved in going beyond the government program, conducting what we call the "backpack" ministry: It ensures that kids leave school on Fridays with a backpack fi lled with food for the weekend. We use backpacks so that the child does not suffer the added embarrassment of being seen carrying charitable food donations home.
Result: The child has food for the weekend and returns the empty backpack to school on Monday. The government does not pay for any of this: The people of my church do. Th is is closer to the ideal, I think. What a family can't do, friends and neighbors can. Government is not at all in the picture. What the friends and neighbors can't do, the church does. If this model were followed all over the country, there would no longer be a need for the government to do the things it's doing— many of which add to the problem instead of solving it. I have long said, and you may have heard me say so on the air, that if all Christians in America actually gave a dime out of each dollar to help "the poor, the widows, and the orphans," we wouldn't have fi ft y cents of every dollar confi scated by various levels of government, which will probably mess it up. A Tear in the Social Fabric Winston Churchill saw the family this way: "There is no doubt that around the family and home all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained." True, but with this one caveat: We can guard that drawbridge and provide our kids all of the moral lessons we think they need, but it's impossible to wall them off entirely from others who don't receive similar grounding. Unless society as a whole is committed to moral behavior, everything we build for our families can be destroyed in an instant.
Take the mean streets of Chicago, where dozens of children die violently every year. Typically, the only mistake they made was being "in the wrong place at the wrong time." Th e columnist Bob Herbert, who has written extensively about this tragedy, interviewed Ester and Eugene Stroud aft er their sixteen-year-old son, Isaiah, was stabbed to death on his way home aft er winning a dance contest. Th is is heartwrenching to read:Their grief, aft er nearly a year and a half, seemed still to be weighing on them, like a cloak that cannot be lift ed...Mr. Stroud, his eyes red, recalled playing chess with his son and teaching him to swim, and watching old Godzilla movies on television...Mrs. Stroud said, "...Maybe this is just a mother talking, but I think the world is a little different without him.