Reflection #2B

In this interview on The Hour, Ishmael Beah shares many insights about the short and long term impacts of being a child soldier. Watch the interview and consider the parts of A LONG WAY GONE we have listened to. What are the most important and/or interesting things we can learn from him? What are the consequences of having this knowledge (how does it impact you)?

http://youtu.be/5K4yhPSQEzo

28 comments:

  1. In my opinion one of the most interesting things we can learn from Ishmael Beah is how deep the influence of war goes. He said that when there were people who were trying to help him and the other children, he was angry because that was how far the brainwashing went. As well he talked about how he was taken from his family and how being taken from the army felt like a another form of deception. That they needed time to change their thinking in order to see that people were trying to help them. With having this knowledge we should be able to better help and understand these children.So that when we do rescue children like Ishmael they don't go back to war and they can start live a happy life.

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    1. Meagan I liked how you picked up on how people were trying to help him and he didn't want it too. I also didn't think about how understanding the after affect can help us with rescuing other children.

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  2. An interesting point Ishmael Beah brought forth was the glorification of war (or violence) in Western media. In this way it is not just child soldiers who are desensitized to violence, but Western society as well. Another important idea he shared was the need for forgiveness in order to end the cycle of violence. It was interesting that he said we need forgiveness not just for others, but for ourselves as well. This gives us insight into how child soldiers cope and heal from their traumatic experiences. From Beah we learn that the media depiction of war and violence needs to change. Depictions of war should not be a form of entertainment, but rather a form of education. Media often depicts revenge as a satisfying solution to our conflicts as well. As Beah stated, we need to replace revenge with forgiveness, and this idea should be instilled in our media. We learn from Beah how empowering and healing it can be to share our pain with others. He is an example to other victims of war, of how to cope and move past traumatic experiences. He also teaches, or reinforces the notion that literature brings members of the human race closer by creating understanding, or empathy. With his book "A Long Way Gone", people from all around the world were able to experience the devastation of the war in Sierra Leone.

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    1. Hey Mina,
      I like how you connected the issue of desensitization to Western society. These issues all seem to be very interconnected that our media shows this unrealistic and positive depiction of violence, but when they're carried out in places like Sierra Leone, the affects are nothing but positive. However, what knowledge do you think people should gain by watching depictions of war as education rather than entertainment?

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    2. Thanks for your comment Neena!
      The knowledge people should gain is that the reality of war is not heroic, or glorious etc. Like you said in your post, the reality is mothers with dead children, child soldiers and so on.

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  3. Hi Mina

    I appreciated your insight into how Western media desensitizes us from violence. I was sickened to hear Beah describe how the soldiers would show the children films like Rambo to desensitize them to the horrors of war. Thus Hollywood was involved in child exploitation. I also enjoyed reading about your compassionate attitude towards child soldiers and by extension, all soldiers who need our empathy and forgiveness. Thanks for your post.

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    1. Hi Ms.Jones, thanks for your comment.
      I am wondering, since Hollywood clearly has a huge impact on the world, if we should try to regulate the content it creates more closely. I am not sure if "regulate" is the right word, but what I am thinking is should we try to lessen its power, or influence? Or would that infringe on people's freedom to express themselves?

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    2. Hi Mina

      I have been thinking today about the REEL Canada film festival and how much talent and awareness we are missing out by not watching Canadian cinema. I am wondering if by motivating ourselves as individuals to watch more thoughtful, independent cinema, we can gain a more critical perspective towards Hollywood films and moderate how much time and money we devote to watching that stuff. I know that today I learned more about war from "Yesterday in Rwanda" than I ever did from Rambo !

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  4. Child Soldiers, we don’t normally think about the emotional factors that are involved, since war has been so glorified in our society. In the clip above Ishmael Beah talked about taking some kids to Sierra Leone and when they reached there these kids were scared. So if these kids were scared just being there, I can’t even imagine how bad it must have been for Ishmael. It’s as simple as that we often forget the importance behind the message we try to send to others and loose the main idea. He had also talked about how these people tried helping the other children and himself but they would just get angry because they were brainwashed to such an extent to even listen to these people. By watching this interview and listening to the different chapters from the book, we can connect better emotionally and maybe even grow a better understanding of what actually happens to kids in situations like these. We can research all we want but it’s the next step that actually matters. For example what do we do with all this information, how can this make a difference to anything. Just by asking questions we can understand the different messages sent from Ishmael and other people like him. And maybe even make a difference.

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  5. I agree with you that awareness is the first step. I find that too often as an adult and as a teacher I have been too cautious about exposing my students to the realities of the human rights abuses happening in the world. However, when I talk to young people, it seems that that they want to know, and that they want to do something about it. Classes such as SJ 12 and blogging have helped me realize that teenagers can handle the truth and have the energy and passion to be activists. I appreciate your idea that there is more to social justice than just researching. What do you think is the next step ?

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    1. Actually I haven’t thought about younger people with issues like these. In fact going through middle school I as a student didn’t care as much because I didn’t know or understand what was really going. Not because I didn’t care but because I didn’t know enough. And well Ms.jones I think your right about how young people want to know more but I think what stops them and me is not knowing what to do with all the information to get to the next step or how to get there. And that is a good question because I feel like there can be a lot of different views on these issues its just finding out how we can contribute. Joining clubs at the school can be one way of looking at it. So I’m not too sure about that but would love to explore that idea.

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  6. The most important or interesting things that we can learn from ISHMAEL,was what he said on his interview that when he went to New york and he see kids where acting tough and saying "I'm a soldier" then he was laughing at them.It shows that he knows what exactly a soldier and a tough person is.I pick this point because It shows exactly how the westerners view the war like sort of acting where you can act to be soldier or pretend to be, but this actually happens and when it happens you know preciously how its like.It is not something you can view or hear it through the media,on the internet,or play it on video games. After all Ishmael knows how the war has effected him and his family. However, he illustrated that he has to forgive himself and others,though I doubt it, connecting it to myself forgiving yourself and others like that is not something easy it take a long time to get through it,especially after you had to faces all the things you never thought you would faces in your lifetime.In conclusion to this, Those who were born in countries of were knows exactly what its and how much effects it had on you during & after if you survive or escape it.

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    1. Jacob i like how you pointed out where he talked about being tough and i feel a lot of people say the same thing were they think their tough but in true, they are not which is disappointing to see but because war is prorated so glamorous on the western front in movies and books that we often forgot all about the hardships that people go through.

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    2. I am still feeling deeply impacted by the emotions displayed by the protagonist in today's film "Yesterday in Rwanda." I found it fortuitous that our discussions about Ishmael Beah as a child soldier, came together well with seeing an independent film about a genocide victim living alone in Canada. It made me consider multiple points of view, clearly demonstrating the pain of war for all those involved.

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  7. I really like how Ishmael Beah acknowledges that most Western people think of war as "romantic" in the sense that it brings honor and pride. They don't realize the brutality behind what real war is. If more people read Ishmael's book, "A Long Way Gone," then their eyes might be opened to the real injustices that happen when war breaks out, because Ismael actually goes into great detail about the experiences AND aftermath of all the killings and war crimes that take place.

    Ishmael also makes note that this problem is not one of the past, even for him. He still gets nightmares and flashbacks, and of course in his home country more children are still being forced to fight, everyday.

    The consequences of having this knowledge is that now that I have been made aware of this issue and how serious it is, I feel I need to do something. Nobody can just read Ishmael's book or watch this interview and walk away not having a care about the problem he's raising awareness for. He's advocating his story for a reason, not for attention. Sharing this video on this blog, other blogs, and social networking sites would be an effective way to raise more awareness on this issue and help spread Ishmael's message for peace.

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    1. Okay so, that was posted by Angie (this is Angie), I don't know what went wrong because I was signed in when I posted my response..

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    2. Hey Angie, I think it is interesting that Ishmael Beah acknowledges that Western society think of war as "romantic" because at first I instantly disagreed with that statement. In my opinion Western society is lazy in taking action against war. But the thought of war being in any aspect of good was over my head. Yet we do have many movies and video games that honour war so it is an interesting thing to think about. How much do those video games and movie effect our perspective? Thanks for posting!

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  8. "First of all, before the war, I had a really simple and remarkable childhood" was one of my favourite initial quotes from Ishmael. He says that in the beginning because, I believe, he wants to stress the notion that this happens to average, everyday children all over the world and that he is not an exception. This connects to what we were talking about earlier, with the movie "Born Into Brothels". The children have no choice as to the family they are born into. They are all simply trying to do the best they can, meanwhile surrounded by so many social and economic challenges. Ishmael says his childhood was "simple and remarkable", to exaggerate that the loss of his innocence (and that of any other child) was (or is) an undoubtable tragedy.

    "I think people think of healing with this sort of thing as forgetting, but I'll never be able to forget anything that has happened to me. I have to learn to live with it, and to transform it". This is the essential message that Ishmael wants to convey. He states that healing is NOT forgetting, but rather "transforming" it. For him this is specifically referring to the healing process with which he must undergo. However, anyone else as a critical thinker can reflect upon these words as an outreach... As him asking for help from all of us to "transform" the reality. A reality that is truly tragic and impossible to forget.

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    1. "I think people think of healing with this sort of thing as forgetting, but I'll never be able to forget anything that has happened to me. I have to learn to live with it, and to transform it". That quote is one of my favorite from now on. it is so insightful and has as you said a essential message and also a different perspective of how to live our lives.

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  9. "In the beginning there was a sense of knowing that you were descending to something that was removing you from yourself". This is one of the most interesting things we can learn about Ishmael becuase it makes a person realize the struggles and difficulties child soldiers have to face. Their emotions cannot be shown because they cannot express what they are really feeling at the time which immediately leads to a depressing reality. In order to stay alive children have to show themselves as emotionless human beings, also they need to go along with the system of manipulation that is going around. children had lost everything family and their childhood is also included. It is also important the way Ishmael refers to freedom especially because it teaches us how to look at our lifes from a different perspective. It reflects how we should be appreciated and thankful for every morning we wake up, the smile we get to show and happiness we get to experience. another important point that he made was how healing is a process; not something that it is going to disappear through out the night. It is a process that you need to work constantly so in that way we learn how to forgive ourselves and others so we can move on with our lives trying to make the best out of it and grow as a person by reflecting on those experiences.

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    1. I really enjoyed your post Emily! I think it is a great way in look at the psychological affects on children and its a great way to start think about with this knowledge how can we better the rehab centers for child soldiers to better support these needs.

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  10. Ishmael Beah is a very insightful and brave man as he shows through his memoir and this interview. What I find interesting is how he believes things such as compassion, patience and trust helped him in his healing process. These were the same factors they had lost in their childhood with their struggles with war. Similarly, the sense of forgiveness at the UNICEF centre where he was brought encouraged him to bring about his own forgiveness. By also seeing him as a child, Ishmael could also begin to see himself in such a way rather than a soldier or a killer. He also brings up the romanticized views of violence that Western society has. Our inability to see the real lives behind the conflicts, the mothers with dead children, the children who are drugged and killing mindlessly, fuels our inability to care. Through accepting wars and conflicts as ways to resolve disputes, we fail to recognize that there are only victims in war.

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    1. Hi Neena,

      I like how you talked about UNICEF's role in Ishmael's healing process. When I read his memoir I was amazed by the devotion of the staff at these rehab centres. Even though (in the beginning) they were met with anger and violence by the boy soldiers, they continued to respond with love and kindness. I believe there needs to be more recognition for these people, for the unconditional love and forgiveness they gave to boys like Ishmael.

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  11. “When people reacted that way.... and that they had very little understating of what that really means to people and how that deeply affects people and that it only brings about suffering and nothing more... at some point I started thing that I need to tell the story and change that perception.”, was Ishmael Beahs responded to the hosts question how it felt not being able to respond and share his life journey as a child soldier completely and peoples respond to war. From his first response right away I can learn and interpret that in order for the developed countries to provide change and help we need to work with the developing countries to get there input and views how they can use our help most efficiently. I think this is very important because we mainly generalize the issues and therefore reach to generalized solutions which are helpful but do not bring long term changes, for example donations to NGOs and building rehabilitation programs. What I also thought is important to learn from Ishmael Beahs is his positivity. He quotes “those experiences have become more of instructions and tools to me”, providing a message that overall changes can be a lot of work and long term but not impossible and it also demonstrates the importance of having hope. I would not necessarily consider having these knowledge a consequence, I would say it is a motivation to further expand my understating of these issue and find ways to contribute to bringing change.

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    1. Hi Dorina

      I really like the way you bring out how Ishmael is positive after all the things he had been through. It is important to take our experiences as a way to grow and become more mature and understanding because we can always learn from them.

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    2. Hi Dorina

      I really appreciate how you mentioned the importance of Ishmael Beah's positivity. War is such a dark issue that we often get lost in its tragedy and sadness. Ishmael is teaching us change our focus, so that we are not just dwelling on the negative but rather searching for the positive as well.

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