I'll always remember the morning I heard the terrible news of children being killed in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Twenty children! How could this happen? They were at school--a place that should be safe and happy for small kids. And it happened so close to Christmas! I'd say this is one of the worst news reports I'd heard in a long time.
I can't even begin to understand how their parents will cope with their loss. If they have other children, they'll have to. How can a parent ever get over the loss of a child? They probably will, after some time, but the potential from those kids will forever be lost. The families and the community will never be the same. We'll never know if one of them would have become the next Stephen Hawking or Mozart.
There was another terrible news report in July 2012; another mass loss of children: Seven children were killed by a bomb while they were getting water in Afghanistan. Somehow, the bomb was accidently triggered, and the children were tragically lost. It certainly wasn't intentional, but the kids are dead. Murdered, in my view. The families and their communities will forever be scarred by their loss. Again, their potential is lost to the world.
There was a report from August of 2011 that at least 178 children have been killed so far in Pakistan and Yemen, from the drone attacks ordered by Obama. What are attacks by drone? It's essentially an assassination program accomplished through remote control. George W. Bush started the program with one strike in 2004, but Obama has continued it, accelerating exponentially and seemingly with gusto. There is now one drone attack roughly every four days. We don't know exactly how it works, because the program operates in secret. We don't know why someone is chosen to be killed or by what criteria. There doesn't appear to be any review board to okay or nix whomever Obama puts on the hit list.
I've been told that this unfortunate type of death is an unavoidable part of war, called "collateral damage". (Huh? We're at war with Pakistan and Yemen now?) I say NO! I don't accept the "collateral damage" argument. Those kids are just as dead as the kids in Sandy Hook. Their lives were also precious, and their families are just as destroyed as the Connecticut families. As far as taking out the "terrorist" who was targeted in the drone attack, now there are the parents who hate us. Should we call them terrorists now? Certainly retaliation would be on the mind of many grieving parents.
I'm told that drones are a good thing because they minimize the risk to our soldiers. That argument doesn't work for me, either. Harsh as it sounds, the soldiers have willingly enlisted. They knew the risks. The children in those countries who are terrorized, murdered or maimed didn't make any such choice.
There is also an excellent compilation of essays discussing peace versus war in a book called Why Peace by Marc Guttman.
As far as accidental deaths of civilians and children while on the ground: Why are we still in Afghanistan? I know all the usual arguments: we need to stabilize the country, teach them how to run it themselves, and so on. I say: how about we BRING THE TROOPS HOME now? We've won the war! Osama bin Laden is dead! Hey, we also got Saddam Hussein and Ghaddafi out of power in the Middle East. Isn't that what we went there for?
There's simply got to be a better way to conduct our business in this country. How about we stop building military bases everywhere, whether the host country wants us or not? How about we remember the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which reads: " No person shall be ...deprived of life...without due process of law"? How about we simply tend to our own problems in our own country? It's not like we don't have any.
Any loss of any life is tragic, especially when it is a child. I believe that all children's lives are precious, even those who live in other countries. My wish for 2013 is that others will realize that, and work to stop the deaths of children everywhere.