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He wants the world and he wants it now!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-07-20 09:34:58
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Just look for a minute around you, how many fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds are somewhere around smiling? Not just smiling, dreaming, planning, and falling in love! Yes in love because this is the age love has a meaning. They fall desperately in love; they are ready to go to extremes for love. And their love is not just a boy’s or a girl’s face, their love is towards life!

When you are sixteen you love life so much you are ready to die for it, literally. Because you are sure you can change the world and you can change it …now! How many times have we said that? There are too many things in my life; I have a weak memory but I remember my sixteenth year quite well because it was the period of change, the period of realization and the period of dream walking. I was ready to do anything for love and my biggest love was life, I had already started my travels that a few years later would take me to every single corner of this earth and I had already met people of different cultures and colors. I had sensed unfair and injustice and I had seen poor and hunger. My words were full of passion and not hate, I was ready to fight anything as long I could side the good against evil and this evil had many faces that I realized much later; but that moment for me evil was everything that let people poor, kids without educations and chances in life. War was unfair and greed was unfair.

In my room I had a poster of Che and the coming of a military dictatorship in Greece just made this feeling for freedom, democracy and equality even stronger. But you see I was sixteen. And I was not the only one. Kids from all around the world were feeling exactly the same things didn’t matter if on top of others they had to deal with a dictatorship. When you are sixteen that’s the way you think.

Inspiration when you are sixteen in Europe? Che was definitely one, the forever teenager, the intellectual rebel, and it was May 68 and James Dean and the hippies, Vietnam for USA and Africa for the Europeans colonists. It was Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones but most of all it was Jim Morrison. We want the world and we want it now we were singing, while the world wouldn’t want to let us get any satisfaction! We were sixteen with the small records, does anybody still remember them? We were dancing to The Beatles in parties and staring at the stars dreaming for a future where people colonize the Moon first and then Mars. Yes we were dreaming of things like that, we were dreaming of international government who stops hunger, where money and greed had no room in our society, where everybody was getting equal education and the only thing we really wanted was to explore. Explore the Earth, explore the Moon, and explore philosophy and art. I remember long summer nights in the seaside discovering Nietzsche and Young!

But then just remember; remember all of you when you were sixteen. Fine you didn’t have the Rolling Stones and Jim Morrison but you might had Duran Duran and The Cure or again Elvis Presley singing "Fever". The thing is that doesn’t matter which decade you born and which decade you became sixteen, what really matters here is that when you are sixteen whenever or whatever you born you have, we had all something in common, we were in love. We were in love with life and anything beautiful this life could offer us; and for this love we were ready to sacrifice anything even life herself. Today’s kids are just the same, absolutely the same. They love and they dream, they hate injustice and they want to fight unfair wherever this coming from. They are so romantic, so ready to sacrifice anything and before they become part of the gray reality we are oblige to stand by them just like we were expecting others to do with us, at least understand us when we were sixteen.

I know that most of you are secretly smiling at this moment and are wondering just where this long prologue for sixteen-year-olds is heading. Of course you are aware of the sixteen-year-old soldiers in Africa, of course you are aware of sixteen-year-olds who work like slaves all around the world, but are you aware that there are sixteen-year-old prisoners in Guantanamo? Are you aware that in this prison from hell, hosted by the country that proudly preaches democracy and equality there are prisoners aged sixteen-years-old?

Prisoners that when they were arrested in Afghanistan were much younger? Prisoners held and questioned as terrorists? Did we really forget what it is to be sixteen? Did we really forget what this great terrorist James Douglas Morrison sang back in '68? We want the world and we want it …now! Did we really forget or falling in love with life so much that can sacrifice his life instead of understanding attracts psychological and physical torturing?

What do they expect a sixteen-year-old to confess? That he wants the world and he wants it now? Is this a crime or are they going to lock up all the sixteen-year-olds? Is this how our civilization going to end up, killing the dreams of the sixteen-year-old? If you want to blame somebody find the one who armed the sixteen-year- old and poisoned his mind but don’t kill the future and the hope for change!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-07-20 11:53:40
What you describe is an outrage, Thanos. So, let’s put a concrete name and a face on the outrage. Al Zahrani, a 22-year-old Yemeni national was picked up at the age of 17 in 2001 and held in a Guantanamo. He was never charged nor tried; in desperation, he apparently killed himself on Jun. 10, 2006.
In effect what you lament at the end of your article, independent of what he might or might not have done or whether he was guilty or innocent (never proven), was carried out: every vestige of hope was brutally smashed in a young man, for suicide is always a symptom of a loss of hope. There are currently 270 inmates at the Guantanamo prison. Their prosecution has not even begun, never mind revealing the charges.
Indeed this is a gross violation and travesty of justice; there is no doubt about it; but before we proceed to give up in despair on the moral condition of humanity as a whole let us look at another important side of this tragic story.(continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-20 11:54:15
Witness Against Torture, is a group of 34 individuals that organized the Jan. 11 2008 protests against the Guantanamo detentions without a fair judicial procedure on the grounds of the US Supreme Court and has drawn substantial support from a number of faith groups and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International. Twelve of those individuals were tried in May facing charges related to “speeches, objectionable language…and assemblages” on Supreme Court grounds. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail, as well as fines and court fees.
It must also be pointed out that among this group of protesters there is also a Catholic priest Father Bill Pickard, 61, from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is one of those who at the end of May showed up in court in an orange prison suit and adopted the name of a Guantanamo prisoner for official record. He will be tried as Faruq Ali Ahmed. He said that: “I went to the Supreme Court to make a simple plea that the inhumane treatment and actual torture of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, stop,” He said he went to bring the name and the humanity of Ahmed, who claims that he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 simply to teach the Koran to children and that he had no affiliation with the Taliban or al Qaeda. The silver lining here is that among so much moral myopia which regards the humanity of others as different from one’s own, there is always a remnant of courageous people who continue to see clearly on the issue and act accordingly. Without those people hope would have little chance of resurrection.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-20 16:09:44
Here are some relevant words spoken only today in Australia to millions of young people: "In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair…, it is up to a new generation of Christians to build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished — not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed…You must embrace the power of God to let it break through the curse of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age…aim for a new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deadens our souls and poisons our relationships." Some might accept this message from Che Guevara but will probably reject it coming from a Pope, but I propose that the wiser stance by far is to look at the truthfulness of the message and forget the messanger.

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