Those interested in the fighting arts appreciate violence in a different way than most people. We seek to tame and understand the darker parts of human nature through mental and physical training. We try to use what we learn to protect ourselves and others. We seek continual self improvement and peace.
Teaching what we learn–especially to children–only multiplies the many benefits of true martial arts.
That is one of the reasons why the abduction and “martial education” of child soldiers should be so appalling to members of our community. It’s long been my contention that the more widespread we can make martial arts, the less likely conflict will arise. What happens throughout Africa and other areas in the world is a perversion of this ideal. Instead of honor, respect, and balance, warlords like Joseph Coney in Uganda use manipulation and fear to gain power in an already troubled post-colonial continent.
The crisis is under-reported by Western media and is completely overwhelming. But there is a way to help. The group Invisible Children visited my school recently. Some of their goals are to rehabilitate child soldiers and to equip remote villages in Uganda, Congo, and Sudan with the means to receive warnings about rebel activity. Here’s a video that better explains their work. It’s a powerful statement of how good can overcome evil.
A student of mine set up a fundraiser on the web. If you can, please click here to provide some help. Thank you.
While you’re at it, pick up a copy of A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. You’ll be shocked by the wretchedness children must suffer through from day to day in war-torn countries only to be forced to serve in rebel (and government) armies.
When I read this book I realized child soldiers live in stark contrast with America’s youth: when Beah was thirteen, he was forced to use cocaine and to slaughter innocent villagers in Sierra Leone. What did I do with my time? Killed aliens in video games while eating pizza with my friends.
I’m making my donation now.