Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “social activist”

Child Soldiers

Last week, I posted about Emmanuel Jal who was a child soldier in South Sudan and has become a famous hip-hop singer and tireless social activist. I also posted about an amazing British woman, Emma McCune, who rescued over 150 children being used as child soldiers.

This stimulated me to read up more about war children, or child soldiers. There is a stunning estimate of over 300,000 trained children fighting in over 50 conflicts around the world. Emmanuel Jal recounts his story in War Child – A Child Soldier’s Story and there is the more famous – A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. After watching Beah on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, we immediately bought his book, more to show recognition to a fine young man than a desire to read. I couldn’t find that interview, but this one is very good

There is an organization dedicated to abolish the use of children as soldiers. War Child International believes that “Children and young people have the right to grow up free from fear, violence, and to develop their full potential and contribute to a peaceful future for themselves and others.”

Their mission: War Child International exists to create the conditions that will fulfill the protection, development and survival rights for children and young people who are living with or recovering from the effects of armed conflict. We believe in the power of children and young people, and so will ensure they participate in decisions which affect their lives so that their voices will be heard and their contributions made to count.

This is a cause we do not see in the West unless some exceptional young person like Jal or Beah come to light. But it is an unacceptable phenomenon and has no place in a civilized world. It must stop now. 

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter

Emma McCune

Last week, I posted about Emmanuel Jal, who was forced to become a child soldier in South Sudan and has gone on to become a famous hip-hop singer and tireless social activist.

Jal was rescued by Emma McCune, who I discovered was a remarkable woman. Emma was born in India in 1964, but brought up in the UK where she graduated from the University of London. In 1985, at the age of 21, Emma flew to Australia and back in a single-engine, light aircraft with a friend.

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Two years later, she went to Sudan, then in a civil war to volunteer for the British organization Volunteer Services Overseas. She was forced to return to England the following year but by 1989 she managed to return, this time working for Street Kids International, which founded or re-opened more than 100 village schools in South Sudan.

She met and married Riek Machar, one of two leading South Sudan guerrilla commanders, and worked to promote his organization after Street Kids International fired her. She died in a car crash, pregnant, in 1992. Emma’s mother, Maggie C, published her story in Till the Sun Grows Cold, and journalist Deborah Scroggins wrote an unauthorized biography of her called Emma’s War.

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Emma is seen as a controversial figure because of her marriage, but she unequivocably worked to save more than 150 war children in Sudan including hip hop artist Emmanuel Jal. At the APF conference that I attended, he performed his tribute to an incredibly brave woman: “Emma McCune” was recorded for his 2008 album Warchild.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  

Interview with a Blogger – Kymberlie Ingalls

Roger Ingalls has been authoring on this blog for just over a year now, and through his posts, you’ve learned his philosophies and hopes for the world.  But who is the man behind the words?  Here, in this exclusive interview, we learn more about the wizard behind the curtain.

I asked Roger what the most important advice is that he’s ever received.  “When in doubt, fake it. This advice came from Mr. Davis, a high school teacher and it got me through many a tough circumstance. As a leader, you’re expected to be the guiding hand in most, if not all, situations but the problem is nobody knows everything. So you have to fake it to instill confidence in your team. In reality, very few people will challenge you because they’re either scared or lack confidence themselves. However, faking it should be used as a last resort tool and not as a primary game plan.

Roger agreed that books are a most important influence on us as a society.  “I can’t choose just one because they’ve both taught me so much.”  He responded when asked to name his favorite.  “The first book was written 2500 years ago by Sun Tzu called the Art of War. The second book is titled Competitive Advantage by Michael Porter. Both books teach strategy and tactics with one being from the perspective of war and the other from business. They’re both great reads for people wanting to develop competitive thinking skills.”

Having survived decades in the competitive hi-tech industry of Silicon Valley, then transitioning in to blue-collar ownership, how has he survived this downtrodden market and economy?  “Adaptability or willingness to change. If we don’t. we become obsolete. The sure way to gain advantage over a foe or competitor is to change because they will always be one step behind.”

Everybody has a hero, and Roger is no exception.  “Muhammad Ali.”  He goes on to explain: “He was strategically the greatest fighter of all time. He studied his opponents and adjusted his boxing tactics accordingly.  He overcame racism and fought the U.S. government when his beliefs were attacked. He became a great humanitarian and is the most recognized person in the world.”

Roger has touched on religion often in his writings.  I asked him what he considered to be the good, the bad, and the ugly.  “Religion is good for discipline. But it also teaches inflexibility and squelches thinking outside the ‘good book.’. In western cultures, those who routinely practice the three original monotheisms (Judaism, Catholicism and Islam) are the hardest and the most devoted workers. Religions that promote discipline through routine are synonymous with a good work ethic. The down side of this is a lack of understanding of different cultures and religions.”  He paused, seeming to reflect upon his own past.  “Sometimes straying from one’s path is the best plan.”

To sum things up, I asked Roger to give us the world in a nutshell.  “We are a naïve society. Immersed in greed and the belief that Earth has an endless supply of resources to fuel an economic system based on perpetual growth. In the back of our minds we know this is not possible but few of us are willing to step up and say so. It’s a tough situation because the whole world now follows this economic agenda.”

“Only the inevitable collapse will force a change.”

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