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Mind Cafe

Should A Child Be So Bold?

A true war story from a man who lives one day at a time

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Have you ever witnessed wars? Most of us have not. Recently I talked to a man who, as a kid, witnessed the fight for independence in a Central African nation.

My first near escape from death turned up when, at six, while there was a war between our village and the neighboring one, I escaped, during moonlight, from death. In fact, the enemies were putting everything upside down, namely breaking down any breakable things, killing fouls, sheep, pigs, dogs, and goats.

I silently left my mother hidden under a coffee tree in the farm and headed towards our compound, then my mother’s house, where they had left a pot full of groundnuts on the fire for the dinner. I really wanted, since I was hungry, to get mine.

I ignored the violence of those many destructors. I calmly collected the thrown-down groundnuts, which I took back to the farm, in my T-shirt pressed against my belly. At my arrival, everybody was eager to get his/her share.

One year later, after the war, we got the news, through a relative married in that village, that some enemies had wanted me to be killed on the spot that night. But fortunately, their chief asked them not to kill such a young and innocent child. My time to quit the world had not yet come.

Should a child be so bold?

The fight for independence was brutal and bloody. Colonial troops sought to repress nationalist voices and fighters in the 60s. Their preferred tactic was to divide and conquer by inciting villages to fight against one another. While someone has not largely written about the struggle for independence in the history books of the country, many who witnessed the violence say the ‘dirty war’ transformed their lives. As the story has a strong historical taste around colonialism, the boldness of the child impressed me.

I wonder how a six-year-old boy walked calmly amid a war zone to get his dinner.

That boy decided not to neglect his own needs. He recognized the difference between what-ifs and what is by choosing to focus more on the happy moments than on the painful or stressful ones.

Imagine how anxious his mum was, as well as the rest of the people hiding in the coffee plantation. They all struggled to accept the realities of right here, right now. The day could have been their last one.

By actively choosing how to make sense of his experience, the boy discovered that happiness is a mindset that is born from the conscious embrace of life as it is, with boldness.

He brought the dinner back and shared it with all. Everyone was glad to experience a moment of presence in the middle of the catastrophe.

The innocence of the boy persuaded fighters to cease brutality. As conflicts grow more complicated in our lives, we programmed our brains to fight or fly. It takes courage and presence to stay in the middle, neither to fight nor to fly. The choice of the child got the chief fighter to remember his humanity from somewhere in the far nebulous distance.

The man who told me the story still lives one day at a time today. Taking things one day at a time can make life a lot more manageable. He does not worry a lot about what might be, or what might have been. Otherwise, he will miss what is happening around him.

You can know where you want to be in a year or two, but you can choose to only focus your attention on today.

Be bold like a child. Live one day at a time, and do what you can today because that’s the only phase of time that you can control.

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Michel Kana, Ph.D

Michel Kana, Ph.D

5.2K Followers

Husband & Dad. Founder @Immersively.care. Top Medium Writer. 20 years in IT. AI Expert @Harvard. Empowering human-centered organizations with high-tech.