By Susan Ciancio
The Fifth Commandment tells us: “Thou shalt not kill.” For most of us, this is intuitive. Sadly, the increasing violence on our city streets, in homes, in abortion clinics, and elsewhere has left many people desensitized to the horror that ensues. Because of this violence, Washington, DC, has created a poster initiative where posters proclaiming “Thou shalt not kill” are being provided by the mayor’s office for communities and activists to pick up and post throughout the city.
The DC community is rightly disturbed by the growing trend in violence. According to an article, “D.C. crimes [are] spiking across multiple categories, including homicides, in the first days of this year as compared to the same time period in 2022.” And those who read the news know that violence in nearly every large city has skyrocketed. Lawlessness is all around us.
We live in a time when many children are not taught to care for the well-being of others, when teenagers are taught that a baby is dispensable if they don’t want him, and when family members are told that an aging or sick person is a “burden” to care for. If we do not teach our children to care for their own family members, is it any wonder that there is a huge segment of the population that does not care about the lives of others?
They don’t care because they haven’t been taught to care. They don’t care because their parents don’t care. They don’t care because their peers don’t care. They don’t care because their favorite movie stars don’t care.
We may look around at this lawlessness and shake our heads, knowing that “our children” won’t behave like this. And most likely they will not be the perpetrators of violence. But it’s not enough anymore to make sure our kids are kind and good. We must teach them to serve as examples to others. Do they have the courage to do what is right? Do they have the courage to teach others what we teach them? Do they have the courage to stand up for their faith?
This is what our society desperately needs right now. We need the younger generation to see the atrocities that we see and to take action to curb them. We need our children to become leaders not followers.
This is indeed a daunting task. And it’s a difficult mission to ask of our children, knowing that they may lose friends or they may face ridicule or worse. But we are looking in the face of evil, and the only way to combat evil is with the light of Christ.
So how do we accomplish this? We teach our kids about our faith every day, and we never stop talking to them. We ask their opinions about current events. We teach them pro-life facts and how to talk with others in friendly debate. We give them good books to read. We give them quality shows to watch. We fill their world with the tools they can then use to go out and build a society that cares for and protects others.
Is this a foolproof plan? Of course not. But we have to start somewhere.
If you don’t know where to start, below are 10 great suggestions (for varying ages) for faith-filled activities you can partake in with your children that will help them see the dignity not only in themselves but in others. I challenge you to choose just one a day, and I believe it will transform your family life. When you begin doing these things regularly, your child is more likely to become increasingly empathetic toward others and more courageous in standing up for his faith.
1. Use CLSP lessons to teach your children/teens about the saints or other culture of life topics.
2. Say the rosary as a family.
3. Read aloud about the saint of the day. Discuss the importance of emulating saints rather than music or movie stars.
4. Volunteer at a shelter or a pregnancy resource center as a family.
5. Check out this new chapter book series about kids who time travel to meet saints. It’s a great way to help kids learn wholesome lessons about family.
6. Go to Adoration as a family.
7. Watch this free video series called “Expressing Pro-Life Views in Winsome Ways” by Focus on the Family. In each short video, Scott Klusendorf will help you lovingly and compassionately argue that all preborn babies are valuable. Each video even has discussion questions.
8. Visit an elderly neighbor or the elderly in a nursing home.
9. Challenge each member of your family to do one kind deed each day for someone else. Discuss how they feel and how the recipient feels.
10. Shop for items for a food bank or a pregnancy resource center.
When we make it a point to include these types of faithful learning and behaviors in our daily lives, we will grow stronger not only in our faith but in our ability to stand up for our faith. That is what society needs. Posters may be useful, but great leaders are the ones who will make a difference.