Writing in the 2nd century the physician Soranos lists the features of a new born child that determine whether it should live. Vigorous crying, sound limbs and organs, open orifices, and lively movement were all required. A child failing these tests might well be abandoned and left to die of exposure.
Fast forward 2,000 years and this week the BBC will hold its annual fundraising appeal for Children in Need. Some years ago the singer Katie Melua explained in a an interview why she had agreed to record a song for the appeal. She said that one of the things she loved about the UK, was the fact that we raised money for charity, that we cared about those less fortunate than ourselves. Much of the money raised will go to supporting children with life-limiting illnesses and disabilities.
We’ve certainly come a long way in 2,000 years and we might pause for a moment to reflect on what has driven this change in attitude not only towards children, but towards people in need in general.
While some may argue that ‘survival of the fittest’ best explains compassion for the weak, we might also see an answer in the transforming power of the Gospel of love evidenced in the self-sacrificial life of Jesus.