Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reading Corner

In the mist of the madness of the days events I'm always looking for a way to quiet the mind and still the spirit, and one of the ways I do so is in reading. Setting aside the study and research matter for a bit in order to quiet and still myself, I picked up a book my brother got me recently called A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishamel Beah.

The first sentence alone in the book grabbed me and pulled me in immediately.

"There were all kinds of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was happening in a faraway and different land..." Also the last sentence of the first page continued to pull at me to continue. " "The only wars I knew of were thoe that I had read about in books or seen in movies such as Rambo: First Blood, and the one in neighboring Liberia that I had heard about on the BBC news."

Probably the most surprising and unfathomable part was that this story line takes place in the mid 90’s. Yes, of course, I realize there’s unthinkable things happening all over the world to millions of humans, but for some reason this particular reminder just pulled at me.

This is an extraordinary memoir by a young man who has lived and seen the worst of humanity and managed to survive and become a better man for all the tragedy, violence, horror and degradation he was forced to witness as a 12-year old boy. I can see this as required reading in high schools across the country. It is not only that good, it is that important. The writing is honest, straightforward, painfully introspective but never self-pitying. Truly an amazing story, and a history lesson we all need be reminded of now and again.

Another observation that I noted was the boy came from a Muslim background, yet “Religion” was not a topic on the table, which I found refreshing. For often times, the topic of “religion” can sidetrack some from the whole picture at hand. However, admittedly, I’m curious to know his spiritual reflection during and after such a hellish time in one’s life.
Simply put-excellent!

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