What if the war began tomorrow?

By now I’m sure many of you have seen the movie adaption of Tomorrow When the War Began which was released last Thursday and follows John Marsden’s popular novel of the same name. The concept of a war in Australia is both interesting and foreign to us so I couldn’t help but watch this movie thinking about ways I could relate it to global issues and blog about it. I’ve come up with three concepts from this movie that I’ve reflected on and researched over the past few days, which I hope both show you just how lucky we are to live in our country, and secondly, inspire and encourage you to do something for the over a billion people who aren’t as fortunate as we are in Australia.

1) War on our doorstep

The idea of a war ever coming to Australia seems so foreign to us. Whilst we’ve sent troops to various wars around the world, or sent peace-keepers to countries amidst a sea of violence just on our doorstep, I think it can be fair to say we live in a very peaceful and fortunate country. The thought of being invaded and our families being taken away from us is rarely something that crosses our mind, yet when watching TWTWB, it caused me to think about the many people around the world who are thrown into violent and destructive war zones, and particularly about the many women and children who spend their lives running for safety. In an early scene the lead character Ellie says when talking about war and invasion, “things like that just don’t happen in Australia.” What if they did?

We really have no understanding or concept of such a life here in Australia yet that does not mean we shouldn’t be aware of others’ situations. Many global aid organisations work in war zones to support families torn apart by war, yet an issue often spurred by war in particular is refugees and asylum seekers. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is just one organisation which seeks to support the millions of people that are displaced every year due to war and violence in their home countries. To follow news from the fields in which they work, subscribe to their monthly newsletter or to donate visit the Australian branch of UNHCR, there are possibilities of both one off or regular donations.

2) We were not raised as soldiers

 One of the central parts of the novel and movie looked at the transition from a childhood of innocence into an adulthood of violence. Each character must leave their innocent and naive childish ways behind, and become soldiers fighting for their country. This is sadly shown when Robyn, the ‘conservative Christian’ of the group, walks past a swing set with a gun and goes on to massacre around 6 soldiers of the opposition. The movie also ends with a powerful shot of the six remaining friends with guns, grenades and other weapons. The audience of the movie laughed and smirked at this scene, seemingly because such a concept is so absurd for us here, but sadly I thought about how this is a reality for so many children in war-ravished countries.

Children are often taken from their families, leaving years of innocence behind, to be trained as soldiers and often brainwashed to kill their own loved ones. If a child can ever leave this dreadful system, they are often left with mental and emotional trauma far beyond repair. Organisations that work with such children however should be highly praised and supported – I imagine this would be an incredibly difficult field to work amongst, yet there are some extraordinarily dedicated organisations and teams which help to rescues these kids and work to rehabilitate and heal their minds.

Two of particular note are Invisible Children and TraumAid. Both organisations have various rehabilitation projects, Invisible Children focuses on freeing and rehabilitating the child soldier’s of Joseph Kony’s “invisible war” in Uganda, and TraumAid is a Sydney based organisation which has many projects throughout Africa rehabilitating and rescuing children and mothers from violent areas, including work in Uganda also. I’d encourage you to visit both websites to read more about their amazing work, see how you can get involved and even donate too.

3) Valuing our lives over someone else’s

The last scene which particularly struck me in the film and has stayed with me ever since is when Ellie reflects upon killing the first solider. She kills a girl, not much older than she is and appears just as fearful as Ellie. When discussing their options for fighting against the invaders, Ellie says, “I have blood on my hands. It was a matter of me valuing my life over someone else’s.” I think this is such a powerful comment as this is really the root cause of why 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty right now, and why those 1.2 billion people will go to sleep hungry tonight, again. It’s because we value our lives more than theirs.

During our recent “voting crisis” I heard and read about many complaints of how silly the idea of ‘democracy’ is in our country. Yes, we may feel that our new Prime Minister wasn’t fairly elected into her position, yet all our complaining caused me to think about the people that sadly don’t even have an understanding of democracy or a peaceful election because such concepts don’t exist in their countries. I managed to go to the polling booth, without risk of losing my life and placed my vote. How many people around the world have that privilege? Again, this is a matter of valuing our own lives and rights over someone else’s and this is a huge injustice in my mind.

 There are so many ways that you can value someone else’s life greater than your own. From getting involved with UNCHR, Invisible Children or TraumAid as I’ve suggested above, or maybe checking out ideas from my Campaigns and NGOs pages. I challenge you today to do one that that shows you value another’s life greater than your own.

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