Monday, November 24, 2008

Rooted Reality in 24: Redemption

Last night one of my favorite television shows returned for one night. "24" broadcast a 2-hour movie to set up the upcoming season. For those that have not tuned into the show, the premise has been that each season follows a counter terrorism agent named Jack Bauer through one significant day. So each episode is an hour long and there are 24 of them. Seasons have been spaced out so one season might actually take place 4 years later than the season before it. Because of the events that will be happening in this season, the show's creators thought it would be useful to provide us with two hour prequel to let us know how Jack ended up where he is going to be when the season starts in January

"24: Redemption" is set in the fictional African nation Sangala on the eve of a revolutionary coup. Jack is found at an American school that has taken in, what could be assumed as, orphaned children whose parents might have been killed in previous revolutions or counter-revolutions. Not too much unlike the work Invisible Children is trying to do in Uganda.

Which, brings me to the point of this entire blog (if you have been reading my writings, you knew this was not going to be all about a TV show). A lot of what occurred in and was the premise of "24: Redemption" is very much rooted in reality. I am not talking about Jack Bauer kicking ass and not caring enough to take names, that is what we have Chuck Norris for. I am talking about the conflict occurring in the troubled African country. The children on the show were being kidnapped and brainwashed into becoming child soldiers. If you are not aware, then let this be your wake up call. While many of us grew up with relatively little strife, 10-year old children in Uganda and other countries were forced to decide between killing their own parents and siblings or being killed themselves. No one should be faced with that decision especially not at 10. The brutal warlords can then guilt the children into thinking they will be forever unforgiven and their only hope in life is to fight for them or be turned in to the authorities. Other children "volunteer" as a chance to escape poverty or simply to avoid being killed by the militia. It is routinely estimated that there are between 250,000 and 300,000 soldiers under the age of 18 worldwide. I was actually a little disappointed that while Fox brought attention to what is going on, they only gave very brief mention in a commercial that provided the average viewer any indication what they watched is not only real but, minus Jack Bauer, occurs every day. And based on what happened, I imagine this will be largely ignored in January.

I really don't care how much I write here. I am never going to be able to do this topic justice. It is simply sickening to think that while a child should be enjoying days of accepted immaturity, learning new things, playing sports, etc. they are instead forced to be puppets in a war that is not theirs. Forced to kill their family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. I would really encourage you to poke around for more information on sites like this. It might not be occurring in your back yard, but visit a school during recess or look at your own children and imagine the kids who are "playing" war are actually equipped with Ak-47s. There is no laughing, no joy, no careless freedom. Only dead souless eyes who have been stripped of innocence.

I have looked at some of the work people are trying to do to prevent these atrocities. I don't see the good of any of their ideas because they are all based on the assumption the same lawless dogs that use the children would obey some sort of protocol or mandate. So what do we do? Is there anything we can do? Can we only deal with the aftermath?


Mya/Nikki said...

It's really easy to get entrenched and consumed with the "problems" that we face here in our society. Grant it they are real problems, but to some magnitude issues in other nations seem to be much more severe and urgent than the ones here in the states. This is really alarming and you're right not a lot of people really know about what's going on in underdeveloped countries, I mean I don't have a total grasp on it either. Thanks for sharing and enlightening...

Alison said...

Hi Kevin. Thanks for posting this. My organization, Resolve Uganda ( is working right now to protect kids from one of these rebel groups - the Lord's Resistance Army. I would argue that there's A LOT we can do as ordinary citizens who want to help these kids, starting with telling our elected officials that they take action. There are endless policy options available to our government to address situations like this (restricting aid, arms, trade, etc.), but our leaders first have to see it as a priority.