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Child Soldiers

22 May

I disagree with many of Marshall McLuhan’s ideas. He’s the guy that  coined the term global village. (He’s Canadian, too!) The idea was that all of our interconnectedness through media brings us closer together because we know more about what’s going on. I believe that we know more, but we have no, or very little, real connection to what’s going on globally. It doesn’t get me out there acting on the outrages I see, at home or abroad.

Having said that, I was deeply moved by War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel LaFrance.

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They are both Canadian, too, but they have managed to bring me to an understanding of the plight of child soldiers in a way CNN and other media outlets have not.

It is a fictionalized account of the abduction of a group of Ugandan schoolboys and their forced induction into the Lord’s Resistance Army. It begins with a letter from the main character, Jacob, who says he understands if, after reading the letter, the reader closes the book because what he has to say isn’t pretty. And it is not. It is based on reality, which, in this circumstance is very ugly. McKay & LaFrance manage to portray the horrific circumstances these children encounter with great sensitivity and convey the idea of the horrors without overtly showing them.  They also effectively convey the impact on the children of what they are forced to endure.

When I was a kid I kept a notebook of quotes and I remember one from E. M. Forster that said,  “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country”. The children in  War Brothers  are forced to make that decision. This is a worthy read.

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