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