Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Long Way Gone

I just finished this book, A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. It totally wrecked me. In short it is about a boy from Sierra Leone who ends up becoming a child soldier in their civil war. It is his accounts of what happened, what was done to him, and what he did to others, and then his restoration and life afterwards.

This booked made me angry. This book made me angry at Americans for turning their backs on the world. This same type of violence is going on in several countries right now and we aren't doing a thing, let alone the countless times in history where children have been made soldiers to fight in grown up wars. I think that at times as Americans we get totally lost in our little world, the one in which news worthiness is equal to Brittany Spear's latest drama, and Hillary Clinton's annoying laugh. Occasionally there might be a blurb about a Civil War going on in some country far away that for some reason has been made less important than Brittany and Jamie Lynn.

There was point in the movie Blood Diamond in which the commander is forcing the little boy to take drugs, and I couldn't take it any longer, I just broke down. And this book was like that, but more. It is so hard for me to imagine a world in which people are so deceived that they kill innocent civilians, rape women and children, force boys who aren't even old enough to carry the weight of a gun to go fight in wars, and then give them cocaine and other drugs to keep them awake and fighting all day and night. I can't imagine a world that takes little boys and makes them into killers, into rapists, druggies, and murderers. But that is happening. That is happening to little boys all over the world (and to millions of families, mom's, dads, little girls, etc. who all become Innocent victims in these wars). There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world.And it just breaks my heart.

I understand why we don't mention it on the news, because it is something that is so horrible, so sad, so unimaginable, that we don't know what to do, so we do nothing.

The most powerful part in this book is when Ishmael is describing his restoration, and the process that he had to undergo. From never sleeping, coming off drugs, to nightmares, to waking up choking someone, to never wanting to talk about it, to normal day life bringing back flash backs. To believing there was a purpose for his life, wondering why he had survived, and going on to help others like himself.

This book was life changing, it opened my eyes to the world I didn't want to see, and it broke my heart for all the little boys who feel like they will never be normal, that think they will always be killers, for all the little boys who can't forgive themselves, it breaks my heart.
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  1. this book and that movie were instrumental in opening our eyes and breaking our hearts as well.
    thank you for the thoughtful post...can't think of much else tonight...