The boy who gained sympathy from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Ellen Degeneres for being worried about his future in a homophobic world is perhaps no different from the child who is brainwashed by terrorists and ordered to execute a Syrian soldier in cold blood.
Both these boys are rightfully afraid for their present and future because they live in a world where both of them are considered non-conformist, alien and diseases.
- One is scared of being shunned, the other of being shot.
- One is scared of being marginalized, the other of maximum security prison.
- One is scared of his father on Earth, the other of his father in Heaven.
- One lives in the closet, the other in the wilderness.
- One knows his choice will not change, the other does not have one.
It is easy for children to feel different from others, what is difficult is bringing them back. The world is becoming a harsh place for the very children who are to inherit this planet. The United Nations report on child rights, their conditions, nutrition and death is appalling.
And in the case of these two kids, the world is a much nastier place because malnutrition, diseases, poverty… these are accepted problems by the world community and everyone is, at least in concept, willing to work on these causes. But homophobia and hatred/fear towards child soldiers are not things governments are willing to talk about.
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A large section of the world criminalizes homosexuality and treats it more like a disease than a way of life. The basic human right of love and the freedom of expression are suppressed either by avoidance of discussion or by severe repercussions.
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Child soldiers remain in the hands of their terrorist handlers long enough either to get killed by government forces or to grow up believing staunchly in the cause they kill and mutilate for. Then, there is no way back for them.
Engaging in meaningful dialogue through spread of awareness and strong action by governments are not enough. They are a step forward, sure, but not enough by any standard of measure. What the world needs is a change in mindset for people to accept diversity as part of human nature. The children need reassurance that the adult world is there to look out for them and no matter the cost, the future of the race will remain secure.