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Stark: 'I love these little people'

Steve Stark, Forum editorial cartoonist

Waves of horror stories continue to taunt us as children's lives are shattered by adults in our city, state and our country.

Charles Dickens' observation has significance to me: "I love these little people and it is no slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us."

Admittedly, I'm a man that finds grace in holding a baby, purpose tending a 5-year-old boy and his kite, and joy counting squirrels in Island Park with a precious girl of 2.

Cultures and religions profess fealty to children. But like so many stately ideals in theory, we're botching up in their practice.

Fargo's Roman Catholic Bishop Folda recently addressed the latest in the shameful series of heinous revelations about decades of little Catholic kids stalked, groomed and sexually abused by pedophile priests. He condemned the recent Pennsylvania incidents of the culprit clergy, but tempered that these acts are "across the entire society."

The priest overseeing NDSU's Newman Center, contemplating a massive neighborhood building project for a faith-based complex, wrote to The Forum just days before that: "Scientific studies have demonstrated that faith-based practices produce less sexual assault...and sexual promiscuity." Really.

Who are these assaulters behind closed church doors? They're certainly not the Catholics that I've known and love.

In our region, little ones are being beaten, abused and broken. The perpetrators have their usual excuses: angry, drunk, really angry, really drunk or so drunk they can't remember being angry. To the discredit of my gender, we've put the "his" in the historically typical abuser.

What kind of men make such decisions? They're not the men I've known.

Washington, D.C., decision makers have now abandoned, locked up and lost children whose parents only yearned entry to the United States of America for its values and safety. These conscious actions by powerful men, void of conscience, are contemptible.

What kind of men in our government compose and carry out such decisions? They're not like men I've ever known.

Our complicated language reveals much about us. It's a guy thing, a chick flick, boys will be boys, acting like a girl, and many more.

During the recent ceremonies for Sen. John McCain I noted that the United States of America as well as the church were referred to by men and women speakers with the pronoun she.

She. That inference of personalizing these institutions as feminine clearly celebrates the notion that strength, stability, nurture, measure, passion, courage, intelligence, empathy, support and love are what we want institutions to be.

Schools we've attended become our alma mater: nurturing mother.

If we want our faith organizations and our United States of America to live up to her values, her strength, her freedoms, her potential, her purpose, her heritage, her goodness, her fairness and her quest for a more perfect union, this man modestly suggests an unoriginal plea that we listen and learn from a greater number of women's' voices.

And America? She'll get better. Promise.

Stark is a Forum editorial cartoonist and columnist. He presents illustrated history programs in schools, for professional groups and in other venues. Email Stark at