When you think of war, what images come to mind? Perhaps you visualize an army of uniformed soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles traveling in convoy. However, the standoff this time is between a Western army bound by the Geneva Convention and Western values on human rights, and an enemy that includes hundreds of children.
France, which now has around 2,500 troops on the ground, plunged headfirst into the conflict in Mali two weeks ago, after the Islamist groups that have controlled the nation’s northern half since last year began an aggressive push southward. The French soldiers are equipped with night vision goggles, anti-tank mines and laser-guided bombs. However, their enemy includes the hundreds of children, some as young as 11, who have been drafted into the rebel army.
The United Nations children’s agency said late last year that it had been able to corroborate at least 175 reported cases of child soldiers in northern Mali, bought from their impoverished parents for between $1,000 and $1,200 per child. Malian human rights officials put the total number of children recruited by the Islamists considerably higher at 1,000 – and that was before the French intervention.
An estimated 250,000 boys and girls (according to current UN estimates) are taking part in wars around the world at any given time over the last two decades.
These children are already victims. What future do they have? What kind of an impact such children will have on the world at large. What kind of a world are we leaving behind for the future generation? Who is getting away with funding 1000-1200$ per child? How are they able to recruit thousands of children? How can there be 250,000 children engaged in war? What sense can we make out this?
In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is in a very similar situation, he had to deal with a situation where he had to fight his own cousins and teachers. Krishna’s advise to Arjuna is to fight them but fight without hatred, fight them with love.
A person can be in 3 states – no-thought, thought and thoughtlessness. A person in no-thought is ready to fight, he is just waiting to go (so is the state of Duryodhana), a person in a state of thought is torn between right and wrong (such is the state of Arjuna), and a person in a state of thoughtlessness, one who has transcended all thoughts and realizes that thought itself is useless is able to fight, but fight with love and compassion (such is the state of Krishna). A child is in a state of no-thought, a saint is in a state of thoughtlessness, is child-like. Both on the surface appear similar.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks at great length on the 26 noble qualities for spiritual development and liberation; and the demonic qualities that lead to bondage. In verse 16.6, He says there are two types of men in this world: the divine and the demonic. In verse 16.7, He says the demonic do not know the meaning of right action, and do not know when to refrain from acting, and in verse 16.9 He says, feeble of intellect, such self-ruined men cling to their beliefs and commit countless atrocities. They are enemies of mankind, devoted to its destruction. Such people are in delusion, by the theory of Karma, are in a downward spiral.
Hate the sin, not the sinner.