Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Our Civilized, 21st-Century World

What a flawed world we have created for ourselves. Not necessarily the world that surrounds us, the world that nature allows us to live within, the natural world of our environment which we depend so heavily on to support everything we do, however we live, and in the process exploit its resources beyond sustainability. No, I mean the world that we have constructed, the social world that reflects our values and what we think of as our survival imperatives.

Perhaps it's fair to point out that we are endowed with characteristics that nature has designed for us, and some of them -- many of them -- are less than admirable. Our penchant, for example, of constantly dedicating ourselves to having power of one kind or another over others whom we presume to be less worthy than ourselves, or with whom we have a long-standing, ongoing argument about resource ownership, from land to the natural resources within that land that we boast is our own to do with as we will.

And then there are the ideas, the idea that one religion, one ideology is far superior to another, valued by a great body of people also inhabiting a pluralist geography, when the majority throws its weight around and the minority chafe and cry foul, and sometimes surrender, but sometimes create non-state militias to bring the polarized views to a head through violent conflict. Through it all, we live and we love and we raise the next generation, and we attempt to instill in them the values that we feel hold true, reflecting human rights and dignity.

Which is to say, some of us do, and many more do not, and the tension between the two continues to breed suspicion, hatred and violence. In Western societies the right to life and liberty under a democratic system of governance is held up as the most certain way to achieve equality and peace. In other parts of the world, where tribalism, clan conquests and religious beliefs clash with those of others' widespread beliefs in the sanctity of life and the requirement to shelter children to adulthood often don't prevail.
"It may seem unimaginable to you that child soldiers exist. It seemed impossible to me when I first encountered them that anyone would abuse the state of childhood so ruthlessly. And yet the reality for many rebel and gang leaders, and even state governments, is that there is no more complete end-to-end weapon system in the inventory of war machines than the child soldier. Its negligible technology, simple sustainment requirements, unlimited versatility in all possible facets of low-intensity conflict, and capacity for barbarism has made the child soldier the weapon of choice in over thirty conflicts around the world, [an] ultimate cheap, expendable, yet sophisticated human weapon, at the expense of humanity's own future: its children."
"Thanks to a worldwide proliferation of light weapons and ammunition, combined with the limitless resource of children as a result of the overpopulation in developing countries in conflict, such as we see in so many cases in Africa, there is no more readily available, cost-effective and renewable weapon system in existence today. Desperate children, boys and girls, are cheap to sustain, have no real sense of fear, and are limitless in the perverse directions they can be manipulated through drugs and indoctrination since they have not yet developed a concept of justice and have been ripped away from their families to fend in the new perverted family of armed force."
"Children are vulnerable and easy to catch, just like minnows in a pond, especially in places where families are being destroyed by famine, epidemic, AIDS, warring factions. Children are faceless and they are considered expendable. The guns are light enough for children to carry, and they are plentiful."
"Girls are an even greater asset, as they can do everything that boys can do, and so much more. They set up bivouacs, prepare the food, control the younger children and are used as sex slaves and bush wives."
"Children are excellent as combatants, as bait for ambushes, as cannon fodder. They are light to transport but still heavy enough to explode land mines so adults can move safely in their wake."
Romeo Dallaire, former Canadian soldier, head of UN mission to Rwanda, parliamentarian : They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children
child soldier gun
emmanuel braun / reuters    A young rebel fighter mans a large-caliber machine gun on the Chad-Sudan border. UNICEF estimates that there are 250,000 child soldiers worldwide
During the Iran-Iraq war Iranian boys were given 'keys' to hold to open their way to Paradise, as they walked through areas heavily mined by the Iraqis, to clear the way for troops; the children expendable, the seasoned, battle-hardened Iranian soldiers not. In Gaza, young, very young children are dressed in fatigues, given weapons to brandish, while older children are enrolled in 'summer schools' to teach them the rudiments of battlefield action. Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Mali, Chad, Uganda and Central African Republic are some of the African countries which train and deploy child soldiers. South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa can boast with pride their use of child soldiers.
child soldier gun
jamal saidi / reuters     A young Palestinian member of Fatah al-Islam trains with a weapon at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, Lebanon. Fatah al-Islam is a militant Sunni Islamist group with reported ties to Al-Qaeda
Accusations have recently surfaced against Nigeria's Boko Haram for its abductions of children for the purpose of training them as child soldiers. These vulnerable children whose family villages have been destroyed by the jihadist group, members of their families raped and murdered, are horribly abused, threatened, starved, then taught to redeem themselves by adapting their childhood years to the pursuit of military atrocities. 

Last year in Kenya al-Shabaab, a Boko Haram counterpart, attacked a residential school in Garissa, and slaughtered 147 young university students. In Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant which is seen as a beacon guiding light for Islamist jihad, declared war on the world, starting with Christians and Yazidi minorities. When they stormed the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, a bloody slaughter took place, and thousands of women and children were abducted, the women and children raped, and taken as slaves. ISIL indoctrinates children into Islamist jihad, preparing them to engage in conflict.

This is 21st-Century barbarism.

child soldier gunHo/News: Reuters

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