Childhood has lost its beauty. Propaganda and religious extremism seem to have overshadowed the innocence that is childhood. The incident in Pakistan where a presumably 12-year old boy is shown beheading a man accused of being an American spy is proof that politics is taking its toll on our future. Be it the Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the LTTE or even the Naxalites, all of them are out to secure their future by poisoning ours.
Over the years, parents have wanted their children to think like them. Not just parents, any and all propagandists expect the children of their land to inherit their cause. And that is where the line between childhood and rationality becomes blurred.
Although this incident might seem a one-off episode, it brings to fore the underlying hatred which is passed down to all children. Aren't students in Iran made to say "Death to America!"? Don't Indian parents tell their children that Pakistan is a 'stupid' country, and vice-versa. Doesn't an American mother tell her daughter not to play with her friend who wears a veil (burqa)? where do little British kids learn to call their neighbours "bloody Pakis"?
Childhood is synonymous with exploitation. The reason is simple; at such a young age, children will believe anything. Tell a lie a hundred times, and it sounds like the truth. Tell them that jihad is the greatest act of all, and they will do it. They will yearn to do the same mistakes that their elders have done, because they do not know it's a mistake.
What can we do? For starters, act like adults! Agreed we have seen and experienced much of the plight this world has to offer, but there is also beauty in this world. The beauty is childhood: the age of ignorance! Hatred and spite come and go, they are reflective of the times and seasons. But a young, free mind once poisoned, is lost forever.Let children be children, do not bring them into your cause. Do not treat them as though they are your soldiers or slaves, for they will not be of any help at all.
Next, I would suggest censoring violent content. I can already here the soldiers of freedom and democracy ringing the war-cries against me, but the truth is that if somebody doesn't stop showing kids the wrong way to live, then that's exactly how they are going to. But still, I am fully aware that as long as there is money in Hollywood (and even Bollywood), violence, blood and vulgarity will reign supreme. Hence, it is primarily up to parents and the whole community in general to shield their children from disinformation, while not restricting their basic rights. Of course, this form of protection will have to be dynamic and adjust to the age and surroundings of the child.
Lastly, don't keep telling your children that life isn't a bed of roses, because its not a bed of thorns either. Let the discover the trials and tribulations life has offer, as well as the joys and beauty in it. The world isn't so beautiful, but it doesn't have to be ugly.
Universalism, broad-mindedness and a love for simple joys is what every child wants and needs. An inheritance of spite and scorn will only create more like Cho Seung-Hui. Children can make or break our future, and the key to deciding it lies in how we bring them up.
So let kids retain their simplistic nature. Let them learn the ABCs of life, not the TERRORs!