Sunday, July 8, 2012

Zero Tolerance for Violence and Cruelty against Children

A number of handful Afghani children looking at the camera
Afghan Children
I believe first off anybody who anywhere under any circumstances commits violence or cruelty against children is a monster. There is, in my view, no reason that can justify this since any kind of violence against children is not only unjust but also immoral. In other words, I cannot see how and why any person with a sense of morality can knowingly hurt children. It may seem a commonplace view, but if you look around you, it is still happening all the time. Scores of children are being mistreated and abused, physically, sexually and psychologically any- and everywhere around the world.

It happens both in times of peace and war. This includes cruelty and killings under the banner of religion, genocide, racism or what-have-you. This makes the killing of Afghan children equally despicable and unacceptable as that of the killing of native Indians and African-American children on the American continent, Jewish children during the Holocaust, as well as Japanese children being maimed and killed by the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One might use a utilitarian argument that the latter deaths may have saved millions of lives in the long run by ending the war on Japan; yet I believe it makes it equally immoral as the other cases. Now I need to clarify a few points before I go along. I am usually against absolute statements because when it comes to morality, there are always loopholes and exceptions. It often comes down to an issue of context and relativity.

I do not, for example, claim that killing is “wrong.” It may be necessary in certain circumstances, such as self-defense. Nor do I think that wars are inevitable; they will always exist because people will find reasons for waging them. It is the law of the jungle that cannot be changed and perhaps only be tempered. But even in the case of war, there should be certain moral imperatives.

I know that the counter-argument is that it cannot be helped that civilians will die. It is a price to pay, the unwanted side effects of any war, a by-product. But as long as the civilians are adults, you may have a point. They may already be considered part of the nation and culture and will perhaps (foolish adults that they are) be ready to fight or even die for their country and their ideals.

Yet again nothing justifies the killing of children. The argument that children will grow up to be adults later and hence to extend one's hatred or dislike for a group of people to include them is utterly absurd. People may have their prejudices, yet children, because of their still unformed and innocent nature should not be mixed up in these messy “adult” situations. In other words, children should be left out of any issues of discrimination. Whether they are black, Asian, Indian etc should not hide the overriding fact that they are essentially children.

Also by children, I mean anyone under the age of 14. I know that puts teenagers in a vulnerable spot and I do not condone any violence on them. However, at that point, they may have enough judgment on their own and may be aware of the difference between good and bad actions. They may choose to do violence onto others. They are often, somewhat unfortunately and awkwardly, mini-versions of adults and may even decide to join a war whether they are fully aware of its consequences or not.

By violence, I also do not talk only about killing, but any form of it. That includes the practice of corporal punishment, the hitting and belittling of children, the purposeful cause of pain. What is seen as “good” forms of education or as straightening and toughening up children is, in fact, causing harm and damage to their fragile and developing psychology. It, of course, includes any willful sexual activity and exploitation. Having sex with a child is morally wrong and is done by people who lack conscience and feelings. Pedophilia is never ever acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever.

To sum up, one's “beef” is and should be only with adults. If we cannot help it, then we may, if we really think we have to, discriminate, use violence, wage wars, take revenge on other like-minded adults. But to go after children, to kidnap them, to hurt them in any way is morally wrong and anyone who breaks this rule deserves the harshest punishment because they are hurting our most precious beings in this world, the very fabric and essence of our humanity, our children. 

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