Know me! Know you! What determines who you are?

We do not all live in the same way. Those we view as “foreign” can seem “strange” to us. We don’t understand them. We may even criticise or be suspicious of them. Each of us are shaped by the culture we grow up within. We are also shaped by our personal experiences and there are other factors as well. All these things influence they way we think and act. They also influence the way we view others. This can all change when we get to know each other personally. Consider the three situations below.


This child should be in school. Instead he is one of an estimated 250,000 child soldiers, 100,000 of which are girls. Picture Source: WarChild UK
Most Australian children have easy access to education and health care.
Most Australian children have easy access to education and health care. Freedom of speech, regular access to high quality food, safe drinking water and effective sanitation are expected. Heated and air-conditioned houses are the norm. Most parents are employed and for those who are not there is a welfare system in place.
Between 10,000 and 30,000 Filipino children in the Malaysian State of Sabah are denied citizenship to any country. They have no rights and receive no education.
Filipino children growing
up in a slum in Sandakan, Sabah, Borneo. Between 10,000 and 30,000 Filipino children in the Malaysian State of Sabah are denied citizenship to any country. They have no rights and receive no education.

The situation we are born into is completely a matter of luck. It did not involve any choice on our part. We are simply born wherever we are born.

Think about what your life would be like if you were kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier or if you were born in a slum with no rights and with no country wanting you as a citizen.
(Click the comment link and say what you think!)

Are we really so different? What are the basic things that each of us, as human beings, all want? If I really know you and you really know me, how do we look to each other then? Can we see past the differences and notice the person, or can we only see the differences?

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26 thoughts on “Know me! Know you! What determines who you are?

  1. We should determine every person on his or her personality and not on the colour of their skin or where they are from. We should determine people and make judgement on them by getting to know them first and understanding where they have come from and how they treat certain people. We may all be different people with different personality and character traits that distinguish us from others. We may all have our own friends who are the same race as us and similar to us in terms of skin colour and race, but to use a commonly used cliche, we are all the same colour underneath

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  2. Every child has the right to education. No child should have to hold a gun. Not to mention just because somebody is different, as long as they’re able to obey Australia’s laws or the laws within a certain country, they should be subject to racism. I don’t think I would be able to imagine being different, being worse off and poorer than I am now – and other people can’t either. It’s one of the reasons why they can’t relate, and they possibly don’t care about people in different situations. It’s more of ignorance rather than being mean. The worst thing about it is that because they don’t know better, other people are too lazy or not concerned enough to think enough what it would be like.

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  3. Thanks for your insights Kyle and Lin. Here is a comparison that might help you to understand the scale of the child soldier abuses. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2010 there were 1.02 million children under 15 years of age in Victoria. This is 18.3% of the total population of Victoria, Australia. In the world there are an estimated 250 000 child soldiers.

    If what is happening in some countries happened in Victoria this is what would happen. You would be in class. A group of soldiers would burst into your classroom. If the teacher tried to intervene he or she would be beaten or shot. This might happen even if they did not try to stop the soldiers. They would then take a quarter of the class ie 5 or 6 of you, boys and girls. You would be forced to fight with them or be killed. You would have no choice. You would not see your family again. You might even be forced to shoot your family as a part of your training and to “prove” your loyalty. (see the Harvard University article Life After Death: Helping Former Child Soldiers Become Whole Again)

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  4. You could be defined as a person who is capable of many things and is very useful to have around. A smart, analytical, competent individual. But who is to say you are not the “best” at a certain thing? Name just one person who is the “best” and who are you to judge? Someone besides you might disagree that a certain someone is the best. And maybe you have unlocked potential in some of those things you are good at. Try to pick up some new hobbies and you might be exceptionally good at them!

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  5. considering the fact that some of the countries don’t have enough money to fund education for the children, I still agree with everyone here. no matter age, gender or race you should be able to access some form of education. this applies to all countries, as there are some countries out there denying people of education. the child soldiers should be in school, but on the other hand maybe having the experience of being a child soldier might actually be a form of education to them. not saying that its a good thing that they are child soldiers, but that it may be a form of education in a way that they will know wrong from right, maybe get some basic education from the officials and maybe even be able to share the experience with other people as they come out of it. maybe educate some people who agree with harbouring child soldiers (assuming they themselves have absolutely no accurate knowledge about the subject) with personal experiences and real life facts.

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    • I understand what you are getting at when you say, “not saying that its a good thing that they are child soldiers, but that it may be a form of education … maybe get some basic education from the officials …” You probably have in your mind the advertisments we see on TV for the Australian Army that shows the training soldiers receive. Child soldiers though are often recruited by being kidnapped. Bosco Ntaganda is an example of the sort of men who “train” these children. The International Criminal Court has issued warrant of arrest for Ntaganda on seven counts of war crimes: enlistment of children under the age of 15, conscription of children under the age of 15, using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities; murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape and sexual slavery, and pillaging; and three counts of crimes against humanity: murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution. (See the case against Ntaganda)

      There is a webquest that the United Nations has called What Should Be Done About Child Soldiers. You might like to suggest this to your teacher as something you could do as a class?

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  6. Children should have the right to education not matter what country they are from. There should not be any of this child soldiers or have no rights that’s just ridiculous. Having the education is what could get them the best opportunity for their futures and provide well enough for their families too. No child should have to hold a gun and fight, education should be first priority. No child should have no rights that’s not what society is about. I don’t think i would be able to survive a child soldier or if I was born in a slum. That’s too hard to relate to because I can’t imagine it. Its a wrong and unfair challenge

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  7. Education should be provided to all countries, big or small, wealthy or not. Just because we are from a different country, it shouldn’t mean we are all different. Everybody is human and should be treated the same, and no body should be denied education. If two people are friends, and they are of a different race, they don’t see each other how others would see them, they don’t notice any difference.
    It would be discrimination if you only saw someones differences from you. Some people would admit that they only spot their differences from other people that they see, but most people would say that personality matters more than looks and that counts with race and colour.

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  8. I knew that this was happening in other countries, but I didn’t realise it was at such a high rate of children forced to live in these conditions. I guess reading and looking at these picture, just helps me realise how lucky I am to be in this country. Kids should be running around, being happy, not holding guns and being forced to kill people.

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  9. People should be identified by who they are, not their background or ethnicity. Kids shouldn’t have to be taken away and forced into child soldiers and people are just allowing it to happen, maybe because they are unaware of the situation. Every kid deserves the right for education because it is such an important factor in people’s lives. People only see the differences in other people and that’s how people get identified by others. It doesn’t really matter anyway because were all the same when it comes down to the wire

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  10. the only thing that should matter is the actual person, not there religion or ethnicity. Child soliders are not heavily publised and that makes this phenomenon so Unknown. every child deserves the right to an education because without an education they cant live normal lives.People only see the differences in other people and that’s how people get identified by others. It doesn’t really matter anyway because were all the same and are all on the same boat.

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  11. every child has a right to be educated. Just because someone is in a diferent country doesnt mean they shouldnt be eduated. Everyone is can do many things. Its not fair how children ge kidnaped and taken away to be soliders at young ages. Children need to be educated , thats what the main thing about being a child is getting eduated not to go off a be a solider thtas for men and even smetimes women. Dont let a child to a grown up thing.

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  12. I think that sometimes we do take things for granted living in Australia. We are lucky that we are born into a family living the way that we live. Peoples backgrounds do play a big part in what people think of them but it shouldn’t because they should be judged on their personality and how they are as a person. Every child deserves education because it is something children need to be able to live when they are adults. Children should be able to make choices in life not be forced to be soldiers because they won’t like that. Your personality should be what determines who you are not your religion or background.

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  13. Having no rights as a kid is ridicules. Their life is their right! What gives the government the right to agree that children have no right? They shouldn’t treat them like slaves, holding a loaded gun the size of your arm, its ridicules. Leave that to the trained soldiers living more than 21 years of they’re life’s, not ‘Child Soldiers’ who are at the age of 8. No one should be criticized by their background or visual looks, were only human after all? Kids should be able to live the life that many of us Australians lived as we were children, happy, fun and full of joy.

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  14. Every child, and every person deserves to be free; not to be locked up as a slave. No matter how old you are, race or possibly living in a different environment or country – you should be provided with an education. Though as I can see, many children aren’t. Something that determines who you are is not by what you hold, how old you are, social status or anything around that area – it’s your personality, it’s determined by your actions; and as Australians in this first world country; we should make a stand and at least help those who do not receive the luxuries we do. Everyone deserves something.

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  15. We shouldn’t judge people by the way they look, the colour skin they have or what religion they are. We shouldn’t judge a person based on what they look like, or if you don’t even know them. You shouldn’t judge people without knowing them. Your personality is what really matters, not where you are from or your religion.

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  16. Only the individuals personality should really matter. Not where they are from or what they look like. Every child, no matter where they are from or what gender they are should have a chance at education and we shouldn’t judge them because they don’t have the things we take for granted here.

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  17. every human deserves to be able to do whatever they want. they should not be forced to be slaves. all children deserve to have an education and be able to live their life easy, not having to be a child soldier. people should not be judged on what they look like or what race they are.

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  18. Every child deserves the right to an education and the right to feel safe, they may not live in the most safest and wealthiest of country but they need the materials and support to do what they want and to be able to live a better life in which they chose and have gone down the path to get there. They do not deserve to be forced into child slavery or child soldiers and should get the right to what they want, while they are still children.

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  19. Every child has the right to an education. No child or human being should be forced to hold a gun or kill someone. Just because someone is from a different country, believes in a different religion or has a different skin colour doesn’t mean that they should miss out on learning the basics of life. Every child has the right to feel secure and safe in the environment that they are living in and they shouldn’t feel like they have to kill to survive. They are still only little kids, they should never have to be forced into child slavery.

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  20. I think that all kids should have the same opportunities no matter what country they live in. Children shouldn’t have to live on the streets or fight war whilst other children around the world have school and treat it as something that everyone gets and not a privilege.

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  21. Sometimes we take things for granted like schooling and housing they shouldnt have to be child soldiers and living on the street we also should’nt judge people how they look or what religion they are we should only judge someone by there personality and how they talk to you. Everyone should be able to go to school and live in a house with a roof over there head.

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  22. When there are 250,000 child soldiers it’s hard to believe. That’s a massive statistic for something so horrible and unfortunate that it actually happens. We have no control of what situation we are born into other than luck and hope. Those child soldiers did nothing wrong to become a soldier other than the fact they were born into it. Every human being should have a roof over their head, food, water and an education but some of us aren’t as lucky just because purely we weren’t born into a society that lets us have all of those luxuries like food, water and other things we take for granted. I agree with Ash, We shouldn’t judge people by the content of their skin or their religion. We should live in a peaceful world were Child Soldiers aren’t needed but unfortunately that isn’t the case. I also agree with Hayden, every kid in the world should have the same opportunities no matter what country they are born into.

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  23. I think that people in Australia take things for granted as for having big meals every day,schools. Their are kids that are fighting in war and they dont go to schools, they dont get big ,meals everyday.Some people dont have roof over their head.

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