There’s absolutely no privilege in growing up in a conflicted atmosphere. The glorification and drumbeating that surrounds the idea of how brave, courageous and fearless children turn out to be in spending the years of their life meant to witness to rhymes and lullabies, in the shadow of guns and grenades, is a fallacy. The portrayal of the waste of childhood as a heroic movie climax does no good to anyone. The conflict is a cycle. A cycle which gets to you, even if you don’t want to go to it. The cycle entails all the mixed emotions that can change your identity and leave you lost in a mirage of bravado, which turns out to be an island of hopelessness at the end of the day.
The identity of an individual develops in accordance with their surroundings. In a place free of violence, a child gets to witness the love of family, camaraderie in the neighbourhood, the serene and subtle environment. Juxtapose this with an atmosphere of hate and violence, and a complete role reversal happens. The emotions are of angst and anger and not love and fondness. It’s completely natural but at the same time throws out a binary. This binary leads to two extremes and that’s exactly the situation that we are caught in. Those who spend their lives bereft of violence do not understand the condition of those who have seen nothing else apart from violence. The two identities clash and end up muzzling each other’s voices. But who is to blame? It’s an endless drive which leads to a dead end.
The world is filled with more despise than love. The dynamics have changed completely. There are more ‘children of conflict’ than those who grow up seeing no violence. The reason is quite simple – as the race for arms and nuclear weapons intensifies, the race for human compassion takes a sidestep. The environment of guns and violence breeds two unwanted qualities that no society would want its future generation to have – intolerance and extremism. Intolerance can be controlled in the long run but once extremism sets in, a catastrophe awaits the society.
There are layers to the problem. Religion, politics and society do influence the very idea of extremism but the battle is not being fought on any of these grounds. Children who grow up in conflict fight this battle within themselves. A flood of ideas and thoughts run through their mind. A flurry of emotions confuses them at every step. It’s absolutely impossible for them to make a distinction between rationality and irrationality and they end up doing the unwanted. Intolerance and extremism is a bug that bites the minds of youngsters from within. When there’s no clarity in answers to their questions, how do you expect them to fare out in this world full of complexities?
There is a sentiment brewing against ‘children of conflict’. It’s a sad irony that those who spend their lives in peace and luxury turn out to be the most intolerant towards them. They are discriminated against, called names and nobody accepts them as they are thought to be ill-minded. This is the harsh reality that nobody wants to accept and as time runs out, they’ll further seethe with anger. There will be certain voices who speak out for them but they will be lost in the din of hate. The need is to address ‘children of conflict’ before we address conflict in its entirety.