Oct. 24th, 2011


Oct. 24th, 2011 02:15 pm
corknut: (stock- shine on through)
One of the books I'm reading right now is A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ismael Beah. Discounting the fictionalization claims-- I honestly haven't looked into them much, so I don't really have an opinion on how accurate or inaccurate Beah's account is-- it really makes me sad to see some of the things that reviewers (particularly at Amazon.com) are saying about him, and child soldiers in general.

"Beah should be despised, not "addressing the U.N." True, he may have "forgiven himself" in some feel-good workshop, but I for one haven't forgiven him. Look, if they gave him a Kalashnikov when he was 7 or 8 and bullied him into shooting up the town, that'd be one thing. But 15? That's old enough to know the difference between right and wrong in any culture. Murderer."

Even excluding the fact that he was thirteen when he was forcibly recruited, not fifteen, I just think it's really impossible to make a judgement like that when you've never been in the situation yourself. Imagine that you grew up in a war-torn country, and were given a gun, and essentially told that your choices are to kill or be killed. On top of that, your head is filled with horrible imagery of what the people you'll be fighting have done (or supposedly have done, depending on the situation), and you're told that that sort of thing happened to your parents and families, and that you need to avenge their deaths. Can you really and truly say that your response to that situation would be "No, killing is wrong; do whatever you want with me but I refuse to fight for you"? I can't, and I'm a serious, serious pacifist who is against the death penalty in any circumstance and can't imagine being able to kill somebody.

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