Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lessons from a militarized childhood:
You deserve it

(In this entry, I assume you are aware of my goal of raising a lot of money to help child soldiers by donating all of my earnings from sales of the hardback of Children No More to Falling Whistles. If you're not, you can go to the Children No More site and learn more there. I'll be here when you return.)

What I experienced in my three years in a militaristic youth group is nothing compared to what true child soldiers undergo. I believe, however, that they and I, as well as many abused children, emerge from our experiences having learned many of the same lessons. To help folks without these backgrounds understand some of the challenges facing these kids--and those who seek to help rehabilitate and reintegrate them--I'm going to talk about some of the lessons I learned--and that I believe they did, too.

Before I do, though, I want to make clear that I know how unhealthy these lessons are, I don't live my life by them, and so on.

They are, though, what such kids learn, and they are what I learned at that age.

Also, beware that there's going to be rough language and generally harsh stuff in all of these lessons. That's the nature of them.

Enough disclaimers. Let's get on with today's lesson:

You deserve it

They wouldn't hurt you if you if you were better. If you had held up your legs longer during the leg lifts, they wouldn't have needed to stomp on your stomach. If you weren't such a baby, you would have kept your legs up when they did. If you were a better fighter, you wouldn't lose so often, even though half the time your opponents are men twice your size, men who laugh as you hit them and then slam you so hard you cannot breathe.

They make it clear. They say it over and over: They're doing it for your own good. Without them to teach you the lessons you need to learn, you'd grow up even stupider, uglier, and fatter than you are. You'd let down your squad. You'd die early. You'd let others die.

You won't do that. You won't let down anyone.

So you try to be better. You know with a bedrock certainty, more than you know anything else, that if you were only better, they would stop hurting you. You wouldn't have to fight. You'd get to be like the other kids you remember, or have seen on TV, or see as you march by, carrying your gun, your eyes scanning everywhere while their dads hold them high and point out the little soldiers, aren't they like little men, aren't they cute.

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