Where have all of the Children Gone?


It was a pretty day here in North Carolina. Lots of sun and the green of leaves are various shades of green due to the time of year. There is one leaf on the edge of the river which has lost all of its leaves.

 

It isn’t always pretty in many parts of the world. There are places in South America, Uganda, Sudan, the Congo where there is a disturbing lack of children. There are places controlled by the LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army. In Uganda, they are considered the worst of the rebel or terrorist groups. For over twenty years they have been fighting a vicious civil war with the Uganda government in power.

 

I started doing research and I found that I though I understood child soldiers but I didn’t really. The LRA and other groups go into villages and torch them. They drag out all of the adults regardless of gender or age and they are killed. People sometimes get out and they  are part of the migrating populations wandering Europe looking for a place to be safe and secure.

 

They are running from torture, murder, abduction and rape. The LRA is known for its atrocities and they take the cake for sheer brutality.  They have been known to cut off the noses and lips of people as a warning to others who might try to resist them.

 

The real horror story is the children. Children are valued and needed for these ongoing wars. The UN has estimated that ten thousand children have been taken in the last twenty years. So a village is invaded, burned, adults are killed and the children are stolen. Can you imagine just how terrified a hand full of children can be after watching all of this?  Even children who attempt to resist are killed.

 

The children are then made to carry all of the stuff the rebels have plundered back to jungle camps. They may even been carrying their own possessions or their grandparents. The boys are then forced into the army, little ones carrying guns as big as they are. They are killed if they refuse. So we have child soldiers who will begin indoctrination but mostly I believe their fear is what keeps them there.

 

The little girls, if they are lucky, are married off to soldiers. It gives me shivers to use the term ” married off ” because it makes me want to retch. So these are the lucky girls and then there are the others. These little girls are used for menial tasks and labor or are sold as sex slaves for the rest of their lives.The LRA leader is Joseph Kony, who is a self-styled Old Testament prophet who feels God is a God of vengeance and retribution.

 

His second in command is considered more vicious. There is legend that he once attacked his home village, killing over two hundred friends and neighbors. No one is even trying to guess how many deaths and child soldiers he is responsible for over the past twenty years. His name is Otti. They are both wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

This group moved in Sudan apparently with an invitation of the government. These groups are like ghosts so they are not held accountable for their crimes.They are armed to the teeth and have surface to air missiles. Many of the groups fighting each other are using child soldiers.

 

Prostitution is rife, Aids endemic, corruption rampant, families dysfunctional and life expectancy is approximately forty years.

 

Then the are the children whose villages have not been attacked and who walk for miles from the camps into nearby towns to evade the LRA.Thousands of children, Night walkers. Thousands and thousands of frightened children who want an education and who want to live. They walk for miles to escape the LRA. They call them ” the invisible children.”They sleep wherever they can find a place to curl up. In the mornings, they walk back to school; usually without food. They do this every day. Day after day. I can’t imagine our kids being willing to do this for an education.

 

So now we know where the children have gone. Now what do we do to change the disappearance of all of these child soldiers and sex trafficked girls?

 

I am not able to do much to help. I write to you all so you can do what you can. But I do suggest joining Amnesty International and write letters, I suggest writing to the UN and asking what can be done by regular people like us. I am going to begin with Amnesty International. The more noise we make, the more often this is talked about, the sooner the official agencies will begin to dismantle these corrupt, brutal groups.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

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A child soldier who looks terrified.

A child soldier who looks terrified.

 

Ugandan child soldiers

Ugandan child soldiers

Stop Vigilantes


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Repeal Stand your Ground

Repeal Stand your Ground

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It is Black History Month and I have found a number of African Americans whose accomplishments I didn’t know about. All the accomplishments which African Americans have made to the betterment of all people everywhere, do not undo the damage that a bad law has done. Stand Your Ground came from a place of wanting to protect people. More precisely, to enable them to protect themselves if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

America has gradually become more and more violent. The last fourteen years have seen a horrific increase in death due to guns. Now, the people who use guns will tell you that they are necessary. To be transparent, I hate guns. To those who would say here that guns don’t kill people, people kill people;  that is factual to a point:  the point being that studies have shown that the person with a gun feels more removed from the victim and therefore, not as responsible for the death of this hypothetical person. It is easier to kill someone with a gun because you don’t have to be within their personal space. However, a knife, or something like that take more involvement from the killer. It is a much more active form of killing. The knife, garrotte, even smothering with a pillow, require the killer to participate more in the death of the victim.

We are at the anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin. I can’t get his face out of my mind. The thought that he was shot down in the beginning of his life just upsets me a lot. My oldest grandson is going to be twenty years old this year and I know he goes around in hoodies. He is a musician in a band and they travel around several states to share their music. Some knucklehead could take him as a danger. He is a much bigger person than Trayvon. If someone were to shoot and kill him or his bandmates, they could say he was so big that he frightened them so they had the right to shoot him. I am crying just writing this. I think about Trayvon’s family and the raw wound that I know is still there. Right after this murder, a woman in Florida shot a warning shot above the head of her abuser. She was terrified for her life, but she didn’t shoot him. That woman is in jail, but the man who actually did kill Trayvon Martin is not. This is not justice, this is not what the Founding Fathers’ concept when they wrote the second amendment.

When the second amendment was written America was not the country we live in now. Transportation was by horse and buggy or just horse. There were no telephones, let alone cell phones, no television.There was a fraction of the number of people who lived here then in comparison to those who live here now. The citizens of America were much less educated and ethics were seldom a subject in the one room school houses. Everyone went to school together and there was one teacher for all the grades.

The Native American Indians were not happy we were taking their land away. Unethical colonists sold them guns and whiskey and so they were angry and wanted revenge. Innocents of both sides were “collateral damage.” What the colonists wanted was land and the Indians had the land, until we took it all and stuck the Native Americans onto reservations. Grocery stores were few and far apart, and were actually general goods stores. Wild animals, such as bears and wolves, roamed freely.  In that time and place, so guns had an actual purpose. The were no firefighters or policemen.  Cowboys and their guns have been a huge part of American history, but a history that doesn’t exist anymore.

Now, in 2014, we have changed the face of America, though I feel that we really are no more civilized than before. Do we need guns…NO! Do we need laws that make hunting humans legal? NO! America and Americans need to grow up. The Wild, Wild West is gone, never to return. Countries that prohibit guns being owned by citizens have much lower felony crimes. We do not need laws to make it possible to legally kill a person. Loud music will always erupt from teens and it isn’t a reason to commit murder. In the summer, when the windows are open, I have my classic rock n roll and it can be heard outside. Should that give someone the right to shoot and kill me? I think not. It is time to repeal the Stand Your Ground Law, because it is unfair, it is used racially, and it is not needed with 911 on everyone’s cell phones.

Black History Month

Black History Month

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Can we Disarm Domestic Violence


Disarm Domestic Violence

Disarm Domestic Violence

The people in Domestic Violence have put forth the logical thinking that abusers need to be not allowed to own guns by law. And guess who disagrees. The NRA. The National Rifle Association feels it is right and proper for an abuser to own guns. Even to own assault guns. I feel this is absurd and will increase the deaths of victims of Domestic Violence.

Enough victims have died due to their abuse. Why would we want to arm the abusers? The NRA has beaten back legislation to stop abusers from owning guns. This legislation would mandate that an abuser turn in all guns and not be able to buy more. Yes, I realize it is easy. Under current laws, you can buy guns at gun shows and other places.

Do we want to make it easier for the abuser to have a gun to further his/her power and control? They believe it is the constitutional right even of abusers. The NRA feels guns should not be confiscated unless someone is found guilty of a felony. They feel it “would be a nuisance”. I believe it could save lives.

At this point in time, Domestic Violence is a misdemeanor and includes a maximum sentence of 18 months. Even if it is a felony in your state, abusers need to lose the guns.

In Washington, current law gives judges issuing civil protection orders the discretion to require the surrender of firearms.They need to find a “serious and imminent threat” to public health. Records show that they seldom confiscate guns from an abuser. I guess if the imminent threat is ‘only’ about the women and children, that doesn’t count as public safety.

According to the New York Times, at least five women have been murdered in New York City by guns used by their abuser.This form of gun violence happens all the time even when the courts step in because the laws requiring the surrender of firearm under orders protection are not strong enough, subject to judicial lacity or are non-existent.

There are many individual stories that can freeze your blood. A woman’s abuser held a gun in her mouth and threatened to shoot her. He did not lose his guns until the cops stopped him from shooting her a second time. A woman filed for divorce and a restraining order. The cops refused to remove his collection of firearms. She went into hiding, with the assistance of the “Underground Railroad” that has been created by Domestic Violence shelters.  After a while she felt safe and she returned to her life. Her husband caught her in a parking lot and shot her and then killed himself.

The NRA needs to be stopped from encouraging the right to bear arms even if you are guilty of being an abuser. Male or female abuser, it is the same.If the NRA supports families as they like to brag about, then they should agree to the confiscation of all the guns of a person who assaults their spouse, significant other or children.  It is time to revisit the intention of the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers did not intend for people to hide their crimes behind the Amendment.

If you are interested, there are previous blogs of mine dealing with gun control and Domestic Violence.

The War on Women

The War on Women

Quote from Abraham Lincoln

Quote from Abraham Lincoln

Don't turn away from uncomfortable truth. Stand up and stop the violence. Care what happens in families.

Don’t turn away from uncomfortable truth. Stand up and stop the violence. Care what happens in families.

Guns and Domestic Violence


The Anatomy of Abuse

The Anatomy of Abuse

Today, I just want to talk about the violence that steals the peace in our world. The entire world is writhing with the pain of violence and hatred. Peace is something we need to choose and too many people are choosing hate, intolerence and violence. There is so much horror and death everywhere in the world, we are moving away from what is morally right, and ethical in our lives. We look around and there is terrorism, jihad, Domestic Violence, bullying and a total lack of regard for the suffering of others.

Love should never hurt

Love should never hurt

So many families are filled with abuse and It is happening more often each year. This effects millions of women and children. Part of the increase is that is reported more often. Part is the increase of violence in our society. This violence is reflected in the lives of women and children.

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In these violent homes wars are being fought and people are being injured and killed. If you study cases of murder-suicide in America, the majority of the abusers own one or more guns. Women who leave an abusive situation are in the greatest danger. This is often the time when they are shot or beaten to death. Statistically, abusers believe in their right to to bear arms. So this issue is that we make guns available to men who beat, strike, and often kill the members of their family.Sometimes, they just kill the woman. All of us who have worked in Domestic Violence have seen an abuser with a gun. We often saw angry men with guns who threatened to kill the woman. We never quite knew if he would include us. I had several death threats made against me during my years in DV.

We need to add these two issues together because abusers, whether male or female, should never be allowed to have guns. No one should have to live in fear. Adding guns to the access of abusers is just putting women and children in more danger. We need to stand up and Congress needs to ratify the Violence Against Women act. It needs to be passed this year.

We need to stop violence against women and we need to make sure guns are not in the hands of abusers.

We need to stop violence against women and we need to make sure guns are not in the hands of abusers.

We need to keep talking about the danger so many live in. We need to insist that Congress do everything it can to protect women, children and men who are living in violence. Call or email your Congress people and Senators and tell them you want them to pass the Violence Against Women act and to push for gun control.

You can help save someone’s life. You can make a difference and choose making peace in our world.

Mellow Yellow Monday for Art and Artists


Vincent Van Gogh was one of the Impressionist artists. The book My Life and Love are One contains excerpts from his letters to his brother Theo. He and Theo were very close and Theo sold as many of Vincent’s paintings as possible. Van Gogh’s art was expressive and his writings were equally expressive. Whether he wrote about art, turmoil or love you can feel his inner passion. Sunflowers were one of his favorite things to paint. He was brilliant and suffered from depression. His art does give a voice to his suffering.

One day, the story goes, Vincent took his easel and paints to a meadow and began a painting and also committed suicide. Recently there has been controversy over the possibility that he may have been murdered. Whatever happened to Van Gogh, he left us with some very brilliant art and writings.

“Since the beginning of this love I have felt that unless I gave myself up to it entirely, without any restriction, with all my heart, there was no chance for me whatever, and even so my chance is slight. But what is it to me whether my chance is slight or great? I mean, must I consider this when I love? No, no reckoning; one loves because one loves. Then we keep our heads clear, and do not cloud our minds, nor do we hide our feelings, nor smother the fire and light, but simply say: Thank God, I love.