On Childhood

When does boyhood finish
And an adult life begin?
Some seem to think it happens
When he finally “gets it in”
It’s a cliché often quoted
Thus a boy becomes a man
But I think it’s rather passé
And I’ve never been a fan

We westerners have visions
Of the way a life should go
The stepping stones and stages
Are a predetermined flow
But there are kids in Africa
And other places too
Who scrounge for every scrap of food
And fight their whole lives through

We work them for a pittance
For our jewels and coffee beans
How many lives are diamonds worth?
And cheap designer jeans?
We buy their dams and reservoirs
Then charge them for a drink
We westerners are parasites
How low can people sink?

But facing death is normal
As they live in constant strife
While we pay the poor sods chicken shit
To feed our way of life
They’re coerced into armies
And they’re forced to kill and maim
And do the things that western kids
Imagine in a game

If they’re pressed to service
And they kill when only ten
Their childhood is over
Now they’re running with the men
Take a look around and see
Our men who play with toys
The ones who wield the power
Are but greedy little boys

And if you ever wonder
when a boy becomes a man
you might think you know precisely
though I doubt you really can.

© Matthew Penfold 2009

On Childhood

Matt Penfold

Joined December 2008

  • Artist
    Notes
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Artist's Description

I was thinking about my own childhood and the concept of growing up, wondering if I should try it.

Then I thought about those who are less fortunate and who, as a consequence of where they’re born, have their youth stolen, often to fund our pleasures.

These links tell more:

Children mining diamonds
Child labour India
Water Africa
Water Latin America
Child soldiers

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