This is from the SF Chronicle today.
The mother humpback and her nursing calf have been stalled at the Port of Sacramento since they were spotted Sunday. The channel, which is 30 feet deep and 200 feet wide, has been shutdown to port traffic since the whales arrived.
The following is from an essay by Fatin Abbas in The Nation this week. He discusses three books: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, Children At War by P. W. Singer and Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War by Jimmie Briggs.
Reading his article, I am reminded of the Children's Crusades. Who can explain? It seems that most often, the children join for food and safety. They are not always abducted, but they do need a family. Thanks to us and the end of the Cold War, there is a proliferation of "small arms" or "light weapons," something even a child can carry. War has lost its perceived ideological or political goal. Now, it is about making money out of chaos. Children are easy to manipulate, using indoctrination, violence, and addicting them to drugs.
I choose just one paragraph of this sobering essay by Fatin Abbas. I can't. It gives the numbers of child soldiers. Staggering. I cannot type it in.
Maybe I will give this instead. So, we stop port traffic to save two whales, which I agree with, and there is this:
"The United States has played a particularly shameful role in blocking almost every international effort aimed at curtailing child soldiering. Not only is it one of two countries (along with Somalia) that have refused to ratify the CRC - (the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which bans child soldiering); in recent years it has opposed international efforts to limit the illicit trade in small arms, the very trade that's fueling so many of the conflicts in which child soldiers are involved. P.W. Singer points to the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms as an example. At the conference, the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied the Bush Administration to oppose any UN measures to make international small arms sales more transparent. How regulations on the international trade in small arms could affect Americans' right to tote guns - the NRA's fixation - is inexplicable."
"Speaking at Paris at a recent conference on child soldiers, Beah insisted that "no one is born violent. No child in Africa, Latin America or Asia wants to be part of war."
There are so many causes that it is overwhelming and yet, this one. Well, read the books. I have read the book by Ishmael Beah and it is sobering and he himself is the happy ending. May there be more children for whom this is so, and may we treat all children with the care and encouragment of these two whales, harbored now in the bay.