The picture was published in The Nation on December 13, 1999. The picture is about two children playing with a toy gun in a rusted and bullet pierced shelter in Chechnya in the year 1999.
My View Of The Picture:
It’s human nature that those events which occur around us and what we hear plant very strong effects on our mind. This applies both for favourable and unfavourable happenings. If something bad happens for the first time around us then it makes us worry. If the same happens for the second time it will make us worry more and if it happens for the third time it will make us worry even more. However, there will be a point when we stop worrying when we see similar bad events on a regular basis. Of course, such happenings or events change the norms and the mentality of people living in a society. For example, if we see a dead body of a drug addict for the first time in a street we might stop and call the police or ambulance for help and feel dejected. However, if we start seeing dead bodies of drug addicts on a regular basis the point will come when we will pass them unnoticed and without any sign of painful feeling in our heart.
Today, after looking at this simple but very meaningful picture, I am thinking the same that I thought in 1999. Look at the innocent smile on the face of a child holding a wooden gun and playing probably with his sibling with no worries about what is going on around him and how this game will affect his mentality.
Especially in war hit areas where there are fewer opportunities for children to go outside and enjoy the parks or peaceful environment, children make their own games including where one becomes a foe and the other becomes a patriot and they start dummy firing on each other. Of course children need something to play with, no matter whether it is dinky toys, dolls or hand made toy guns.
Millions of children of Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia etc. are experiencing those incidents which children should not be experiencing at a tender age. They are seeing nothing but killings, blood, rubble, gun fire, hunger and homelessness. They know nothing about the streets where children are allowed to play freely or if they know, it might be in their memories only. They only know how to play war-war. Their mentality revolves around war related things. They don’t know about the feelings of joy in having parents playing with them and sharing smiles. Their minds which should be filled with love and care become dens of war, blood, killings and revenge. Might be that very few out of many children with such bad luck will be able to forget the past and start their life as a normal and positive person. Without any doubt the events of war disturb them for a long time and they take ages to forget the pains of the past.
Recently, the picture of the Syrian boy sitting in shock in the ambulance all covered with dust and blood became very famous. Yes a very popular and heart breaking picture it was. But could the popularity of that picture become a balm to the harsh memories of the war he experienced at his tender age? Could the likes for the picture on Facebook bring life to that boy who was drowned when his parents were trying to cross the sea to enter into Turkey from Syria?
A mess is created by super powers around the world, which is their typical trait. Recently, I have read a very logical statement “As long as there is profit in war, the world will never know peace”. Of course it is all about lucrative profits without a minute’s care for the sufferings of humanity.
We rate today’s world as very advanced, developed and more educated. But my question is what type of development and education are those that fail to refrain us from realizing that children have nothing to do with war. It is the height of cruelty that one country is bombing another country’s wedding parties, funerals and other gatherings even knowing that the victims are not those who are there to fight.
Though in reality I don’t want to see even a single child get hurt because of war, my question to big powers is: what if the same happens to the children of your country as you are doing in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen and in Afghanistan? Everyday many children are being killed by those who say that they are champions of peace and humanity and try to persuade the rest of the world that they are fighting to restore amity.
I wonder how many more wars and lives of children are required to restore peace around the world. I think it’s time for everyone around the world to put pressure on our governments involved in the killing of innocent people and children either through writing, through speeches or through protest. Though I agree that many people had raised their voices in the past and are still raising them against war, I think still a lot more is required.
At the end, I think war is part of human nature. I’m not saying that we should go into war but if it’s inevitable then it should be between the armed forces, to whom we pay a lot, and not between armed forces and civilians.