By Isabelle Orozco
Amidst the violence, the discussions, arguments, town hall meetings, and conferences we often forget them. The children. Our future.
I ask myself this every time there’s a conflict between the grown-ups. What about the children? Is anyone thinking about them? I keep asking myself as I view scenes on the news of men “recruiting” children to battle their fights. Does anyone hear their silent pleas? I inquire as I listen to stories of orphaned infants.
This question began when the conflict in Syria erupted. I remember sunbathing during a lazy summer week and casually skimming through a magazine and stumbling upon an article about the “Lost Generation.” Lost? How?:
“At some point this year, Syria will overtake my native country, Afghanistan, as the world’s largest refugee-producing state. There are now 2.5 million refugees from Syria, 1.2 million of them children. Two-thirds of Syrian refugee children, and nearly three million children inside the country, are out of school.
They face a broken future. Syria is on the verge of losing a generation. This is perhaps the most dooming consequence of this terrible war.”
This was in 2014. Present 2017, “an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011. Now, in the sixth year of war, 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country.” And how many of those are children? According to UNICEF, 8.4 million.
And let’s bring it back home, if Syria is too metaphorical or too “far” for people to imagine.
Recently there has been a video circulating around of parents having to explain to their black children the importance of knowing how to deal with a police officer. And this far exceeds your quotidian friendly and responsive manners. Why do we have to teach our children this? Who built insignificant hate barriers these children must learn? Adults, grown-ups, parents, lawmakers, leaders.
But the list rapidly grows.
During that same summer, I began and devoured “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, a memoir about his childhood (or lack thereof) during the 1991 Sierra Leone civil war. A war in which children were captured, ripped, and severed from their homes by men.
Once more, children were stolen to fight the adults’ wars. Once more, children were violated, drugged, and kidnapped to be taught the action of killing when their understanding of the act was far behind. What about the children? Did anyone think about children but only a thousand few?
And we see these images one after the other, back to back and simply sigh and say “oh those poor kids.” That’s it. I know it because I’ve done it and have seen others reacting eerily the same way.
Does anybody care about our future as humans? I feel like I batter my head frequently with this one question. Do we strive to survive as a species or will we continuously kill our present and in turn burn our future? So many questions and never a correct answer.
* * *
And now today.
As of the beginning of 2017, 680 immigrants have been deported from the U.S., for committing dangerous crimes to no crime at all. Home is no longer safe for millions of undocumented immigrants. But these raids are not the simple “rounding” up and delivering of humans as if they were cattle. These raids gradually amount to the thousands, MILLIONS of children who will be orphaned or left with a single parent. Is anyone thinking about the children? Does anybody care about our future?
And as we adults continue to argue, attack, and ruin, our children sit wide-eyed not comprehending why now they must leave home, school, cross barriers, swim across waters, become orphans, see death, and harbor traumas.
Why now, do they must stop their childhood and lose it, never to relive or create it again? How will their broken youth be mended?
The hate, the differences, the lack of empathy we humans have is incomprehensible beyond belief. We claim to be the most dominant species when we ourselves can barely control our barbaric behavior. And I stand by my opinion of believing that it’s important to be aware of our ways because if we forget we continue, we desensitize ourselves to the innumerable suffering we can cause. I question our behavior just as much as I fight it. I pledge to be one more who will not forget the children, who will keep asking, and keep battling for their youth.