On the last day of Eid al-Fitr, I parked my car on a street in Beirut as I waited for a friend. The street was calm; it was an official holiday and the people who were on vacation tried to avoid walking in the heat of the midday sun. However, there was a group of young children playing on the sidewalk.
They carried fake guns, and some of them were wearing helmets and bulletproof vests; it seemed like they were playing the well-known game we all used to play when we were kids: Cops and Robbers.The scene reminded me of my beautiful childhood; the game these kids were playing was very similar to the games we used to amuse ourselves with when we were kids. Unfortunately, cops and robbers was an outdated game for these kids, so they invented a new version of this innocent game that they called “ISIS vs. Christians.”
A group of children, armed with fake guns and wearing helmets, were calling themselves “ISIS.” They were chasing another group of kids who were supposed to be the “Christians.” The game was violent; the kids were beating each other up and reenacting all the violent images and videos that they probably saw on the television on a daily basis. When a kid was caught by the “ISIS” team, he was beaten, shoved to the ground and had guns pointed at him. “ISIS” had to kill him since he was a “Christian,” and he had to accept his fate; he chose to be part of the weak “Christians” team.
While this might not be a shocking story, it is undeniable that what the new generations are learning, seeing and living is violating their right to a peaceful and healthy childhood.
The “ISIS vs. Christians” game the kids decided to play might not be dangerous today: the weapons they were using were fake, they were not physically injuring each other and the purpose of the game was to just have fun. The danger resides in what these kids might become in a few years. The new generations are being raised on the continuous violence and sectarian discrimination that it is becoming the biggest part of their daily lives.
It is true what they say, that war and politics are just games, but they are the grown-ups’ games. We should keep them away from children and try to save their childhood as much as we can.
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