The blogging assignment has been interesting to me because I have never created a blog before, or had much experience in the blogging world. I thought that it made an impact on me and the materials that we were reading because it forced me to reevaluate the reading and then try to connect it to something that is current in today’s society. I often found myself reflecting a particular subject or idea several times. It was also interesting to see other people comment on my blog posts. It made it seem like I was writing them for a purpose or audience. I’m not sure that I will continue my war blog, but it definitely opened up the possibilities as to creating another type of blog, where I can draw conclusions and reflect on certain events or ideas. I will however, continue using the RSS feeds on my Google Reader. I also had never been introduced to this until this class. I have used it now for several other classes, and found it very useful and an effective use of my time. I especially enjoyed using this tool for our blog posts because it gave me a more specific search field.
Loss of Innocence April 13, 2009
What struck me most when I read, Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, was the ongoing theme of the young boys of the villages who were forced to give up their childhood. The war that took over their lives forced the children to flee from their families, friends, homes, and schools. The main character in the story, Ishmael Beah was only 12 at the time the war invaded his village. He lost his family and his home in one day. He was forced to see horrific and terrifying murders, deaths of children, and torture inflicted on various civilians. He somehow managed to escape with a few other boys and began his long journey, not really knowing where he was running to. He slept in the forests, hid most of his days in fear and starvation.
When he finally reached a village that he believed to be safe, the army men forced the young teen boys to become soldiers as well to fight off the rebels. At first, Beah was terrified of killing another human being. The soldiers motivated the young boys by telling them that the rebels they will be killing are responsible for killing their families. After the first day or two in the forest fighting, Beah had become immune to the killing, and his soul seemed to become hardened. His days were from then on filled with killing, raiding villages, stealing goods, doing drugs, and watching war movies. It seemed as though he knew nothing but war and seemed to get used to it somehow. In the book, he writes,
“The five men were lined up in front of us on the training ground with their hands tied. We were suppose to slice their throats on the corporals command. ….I didn’t feel a thing for him, didn’t think much about what I was doing. I just waited for the corporals order. The prisoner was simply another rebel who was responsible for the death of my family, as I had come to truly believe. “
I was curious about the idea of boy soldiers who are forced to fight in a war at such a young age, and wondered where else in the world this has or is happening. According to an article titled, Innocence Lost: the Child Soldiers Forced to Murder. A young boy in eastern Congo, ten years of age, was forced to become a soldier at such a young age. Although he survived, he faced traumatic events tat will always haunt him as he attempts to enter back in to civilian life.
Beah, I. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. p. 124
Innocence Lost: the Child Soldiers Forced to Murder. Dec, 2008 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/innocence-lost-the-child-soldiers-forced-to-murder-1052026.html
The young boys from the novel, A long Way Gone, had gone through and seen with their own eyes horrific events that seem to replay and torment their every thought. The violence they encountered on a daily basis eventually turned them into hardened souls who resorted to fighting as a means of communication or a way to solve any problem. At one point in the book, the main character, Ishmael Beah actually takes joy in killing the rebels. He thrives on the raids, capture and pure killing. He soon is addicted to various drugs, that seem to numb him to the pain that surrounds him. In the book, Beah writes,
“The villages that we captured and turned into our bases as we went along the forests that we slept in became my home. My squad was my family, my gun was my provider and protector, and my rule was to kill or be killed. The extent of my thoughts didn’t go much beyond that. we had been fighting for over two years, and killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen.”
One might wonder how these young, once so innocent boys could ever return to normalcy in their life, once the war was over? In order to do so, they must have faith in themselves that they will recover after seeing and doing such terrible things.
I found an NPR, This I Believe podcast that discusses the ability of soldiers or veterans to return to their lives after the terrible things they endured during war. The speaker is a psychologist who has listened to war veterans talk about how they are trapped between feelings of numbness and rage. The main point of the message was for the soldiers to have hope in themselves that they can and will be resilient and come back from this to have a happy life.
Beah, I. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, p. 126
Schmidt, J. This I Believe Podcast: Resilience is a Gift, Nov. 12, 2007: http://www.google.com/reader/view/?hl=en&tab=wy#search/returning%20from%20war/17
Reasons for Joining the Military April 12, 2009
I recently came across an article that showed how the number of people joining the military is on the rise, mostly due to high unemployment. This article caught my eye, because after reading and discussing the book, The Things they Carried, by Tim O’Brien, we discussed how Tim did not want anything to do with the war. He thought seriously about fleeing to Canada and hiding out until the war in Vietnam was over. O’Brien thought that by joining the military in fighting this war was the coward thing to do. He writes,
“The day was cloudy. I passed through the towns with familiar names, through the pine forests, and down to the prairie, and then to Vietnam, where I was a soldier, and then home again. I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.”
To me, this seemed so backward to what I or today’s society would normally think. If someone today was drafted and was seriously thinking of running away, I would think they were a coward for not wanting tof fight for this country.
The movie, Born on the Fourth of July, the main character, Ron, joined the military for his own specific reasons. To me, it seemed like he did it to have the image of being strong and to prove to his family, friends, and community that he was worth something. Unlike O’brian, Ron might of felt like a coward if he did not join the war. He also did not understand his friends when they said they would rather stay home and go to college, rather than going to Vietnam to help fight in the war.
The article that I found was from the New York Times, where it discussed how in this war, more and more people are joining the military for reasons other than being forced by the draft, or for the only reason of wanting to show courage and fight for the country. Instead, the military recruitment is on a rise for two main reasons. One is that unemployment rates are rising, and they are not able to find a steady job that can provide for their families. The military offers them a sense of security in a job and a paycheck. Other young men and women joined because they could not get student loans to pay for college. The other main reason for rising military occupants is that the violence in the war zones seemed to have decreased. People are not viewing this war as dangerous as it once was, which is increasing their motivation for joining some branch of the military.
O’Brian, T. The Things they Carried, p.61
Alveraz, L. More Americans Joining the Military as Jobs Dwindle, Jan. 18, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/19recruits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1