Sometimes a single image reflects a view of mankind that touches the heart and brings tears to the eyes. I had occasion to look again at the photograph taken by Huynh Cong Ut, now better known as Nick Ut. This photo won him a Pulitzer Prize and may be viewed on widipedia under the photographer's name. It shows a terrified little 9 year old girl running towards the camera to flee a South Viatnamese napalm attack on the Trang Bank village during the Vietnam War.
Somehow this image, 35 years down the line, is as horrific and shaming as it must have been when it first appeared in print. That little girl's pain is so real, so desperate, so lost and you can see and hear the terror this child is going through. For me this image represents the children in the world who have been let down by adults and the society they live in. I'm not just talking about the kids that have been bullied into labour, into armed combat, torture and turned into sex slaves in under developed countries.
What pain are the children of Darfur suffering. What about the kids in Iraq who have to step over corpses on the way to school, if they are lucky enough to still be able to go to school. What about the girls in Africa who are subjected to genital mutilation. What about the children in China who are working in factories.
What about the multitude of children born in Africa where the parents have no hope of feeding them, but they still continue to breed. What about the kids killed in American schools because of inadequate gun laws. And what about little Madeleine who was abducted from her bed while she and her family were on holiday in Portugal.
When I look at that picture I can hear that scream. A child has different kinds of screams. There are the screams that denote temper, frustration and small little pains like a stubbed toe. And then there is that scream. When my kids grew up, there were a few times, when they had really, really hurt themselves, when they have a special scream that just goes right through you. I can hear that little Vietnamese girl screaming like that.
Children are unthinkingly brought into the world. And then neglected, ignored or exploited depending on what selfish adults feel they need them for. I don't think the world has improved on this in the 21st century. The world is as neglectful of its children as before.
Sure, you will look at this and say that you can't be counted amongst those. You look after your kids, they are the centre of your universe. And I know the majority of parents really do care for their children and follow through on the caring by providing a protected, nurturing and stimulating home life for them. However, what percentage of neglected children is acceptable? Is it acceptable to have any children who are abandoned by the society they live in.
No matter the numbers, those kids are screaming just like that little Vietnamese child. It doesn't have to be napalm that frightens them. It can be the other evils that the 21st century has thought of, from child molestation to child *** ography, to straight parental abuse. We have it all. That little girl was in Vietnam, but those children that are screaming from absolute anguish, they are everywhere in the world.
Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. Her personal blog http://www.anjamerret.com allows her to voice opinions on issues that interest her and observations she makes.
She has started a new blog http://www.pinkblocks.com that deals with observations on self development and personal power. Her recommendation for self help tools may be found on http://www.anjamerret.blogspot.com