by Judith Mohling for Boulder Camera
“At a time when poverty is increasing in the U.S., Ukraine, and Russia, when the world collectively faces the existential threat of climate change, a pandemic that has taken 5.8 million lives and caused rising ‘deaths of despair,’ declining life expectancy and extreme inequality, isn’t it time to think anew?” Letter to the world by American and Russian women prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, February 2022. Moreover, what about the children of the world?
I am sure that war affects children in all the ways that it affects adults, but in different ways as well. Children are dependent on the care, empathy and attentions of adults who love them. When that breaks down, for whatever reasons, harm to these developing humans can happen. The life trajectory of individual children may be affected. Even if children are shielded from far-off wars, they are learning from the adults shielding them different attitudes toward war–nonchalant acceptance of the ever present existence of war, for example, or hysterical, “poor me” attitudes or anger without ideas for action and support to act. Then, consider children who lose the opportunity for education during war, or who are injured or disabled by fighting around them, they may, in addition to loss of a limb, sight, or cognitive capacity completely lose the opportunity of schooling and of a social life. Girls who are raped may be marginalized and lose the opportunity for education and a normal social life.
According to a United Nations Report on the impact of armed conflict on children, in ongoing conflicts around the globe, civilians have been increasingly and severely affected by war. Among them, half are children and adolescents younger than 18 years of age. In 1996, UNICEF stated that in the period from 1985-1996, 2 million children had been killed in war, 4-5 million had been left disabled or severely wounded, 12 million children were displaced or made homeless and 1 million lost their parents or were separated from them.
Who are the so-called winners? Pentagon contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman, for starters. Then think of recipients of U.S. arms exports such as Saudi Arabia, Australia, UAE, South Korea, Japan, Qatar, Israel, NATO, and on and on.
Think of the people in the United States struggling with poverty, hunger, disease, and homelessness; and cities and states that lack the funds to repair crumbling infrastructure, clean toxic sites and shift to green energy.
Then think of our beloved Earth undeniably struggling with all of this. We need to do much more than just weep.