Saturday, 31 October 2015

Why "Child Soldier" as a Theme?

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The controversial issue and topic regarding children who take part in conflicts around the world had intrigued me for a very long time. It stems from me finding myself pondering the philosophical concept of -

I am not going to write a thesis on that just yet - lol. But most of us know that what exactly constitutes "normality" had been a topic of pensive thought for many a philosopher under his tree or hermit in his cave.

When I look at my own life, my surroundings, my social circumstances, upbringing etc. (which is pretty much along the "Western model" even though I am a South African) then I start to realize just how fortunate I am and how being raised with decent role models shaped my life into something resembling something fairly decent.

But I needed to be taught concepts such as respect, compassion and even love. Be it at school, through my parents, through peers, through friends or even religious institutions - the fact remains that somewhere along my path in life somebody had defined this for me. And I had put it into practice.

If one was to be born on a desolate island and had to grow up all on your own with no social interaction - what would your perception of "normality" be? Think along the lines of "Lord of the Flies" for example.

What would be acceptable and what not? Is it not society which mostly lays down these rules for us? And then a very specific society with a very specific culture and way of viewing things? In some societies it is acceptable to stone a person to death. In others that practice is absolutely shocking.

So - now imagine a child without parents, suddenly finding himself in a country which is riddled by war and instability. Growing up without any guidance or role models. Not even religion (any religion - whatever your views on it) to teach the basic commandments. And then he is cast into the claws of warlords and rebels who know only one thing - War.

What would the reality and normality for such a child be? Death, destruction, killing, hatred, rape, plunder and murder? And how would such a child ever reintegrate into "normal society" again? What chance does such a child have to learn concepts such as 'compassion' or 'love' or 'giving' or 'mercy'?

And these thoughts were exactly why I chose and explored the theme. Further research brought me into touch with the shocking reality that as many as 300,000 children around the globe find themselves exactly in this terrible position - at this very moment. Scarred for life and having little chance of ever knowing "normality" as most of us understand it. Instruments to be exploited.

Lost youth. Lost futures. Lost innocence. Never having the chance to be simple young kids playing in the park with other kids. Instead of kicking a ball, these children carry rifles as their "toys" and are in the serious and deadly business of killing - or to be killed...

Can you even BEGIN to imagine the psyche of such a child or how his or her young mind must be shaped and corrupted by the evils of grown men at war? Just mull over that for a moment...

Please feel free to leave your own thoughts on this.

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