Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Read: A Long Way Gone by Ismael Baeh

In A LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a powerfully gripping story: At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal”(
My ideas/thoughts/realizations after reading…..
Too much time idol/alone mind sinks into feelings of loneliness, questioning existence, questioning life decisions

Ismael-a young boy tortured by this idol time

Swami Rama-uses this time to control the mind

Human beings are like rubber bands with the human mind and body shifting from one extreme to the next.  The power of the human mind is confirmed with one experiencing a range of emotions, affects, and adaptive/maladaptive patterns created.

Ismael once was a sweet, caring, non-violent, boy who turned into a monster when violence took over his life and he was forced to make a decision to live and work for the army or risk death within the civilian population. At this critical age, a young boy should never have to make such a difficult life decision, but this is the reality of violence and warfare in Sierra Leone, Africa.  He is severely traumatized by the inhumane acts he performs, witnesses, the loss of his friends, and the loss of his whole family.  Ismael projects all his sadness and anger onto the killing of civilians.  He performs such inhumane acts that demonstrate a human beings potential for evil and hatred with the behavioral and environmental impact. 

Ethnic xenophobia plays a role for Ismael in terms of his externalizing his aggression. "Anger makes one feel strong. Paranoia becomes a psychi vitamin for threatened identity and powerful anodyne against the pain that results from genuine self-reflection.  This is the essential dynamic of what I call a "villain hunger." And this hunger gets readily activated when a large group's identity is threatened from external or internal sources(Akhtar,2005,p.115) Ex. Indian independence from the British. Ismael, a young boy, but a villain hunger who is weak and helpless looking for someone to blame to keep his sadness and mourning at bay.
By the grace of God, he is sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center to regain his true identity and extinguish his maladaptive thoughts and behavioral patterns.  As expected, he acts out towards staff and has difficulty trusting, but he shifts back to the boy he once was with the help of a supportive, loving environment. 

Now 26, he has a story of a lifetime to share with others.  In the book, he often ponders why and how he was still alive after such conflict.  His purpose is completed to tell his story and be a strong leader for others in his country and abroad.

This book not only proves the power of the human mind, but it shows that life is unpredictable. One day you can be sharing a meal with your family and the next your village may be in flames and you can not find your family.  Every moment is precious and again one should be thankful for their freedom.  These young children from all over do not have a choice rather they are coerced into violence and war, which will negatively impact their psychological mental health state requiring intensive therapy for a lifetime.
May these children find their way out of this violence and devastation to the light that lies at the end of the tunnel….PRIS

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