A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah

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What is the moral or lesson from "A Long Way Gone"?

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In Ishmael Beah's 2007 memoir A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, he tells the story of how he became separated from his family as a young boy in Sierra Leone during the country's civil war. Readers learn about his horrific experiences as a child soldier and his rescue and rehabilitation with UNICEF.

There are a few lessons to take away from this story. While Ishmael participates in violent and destructive acts as a child soldier, he eventually has to go through the process of forgiving himself for the things he's done. It's important to Ishmael's rehabilitation and recovery that he understands that he was just a child, unable to save himself from their chaos surrounding him.

In this, there is a moral and lesson for everyone reading the book. While we may vilify those who engage in drug use and commit terrible acts of violence, we should not let ourselves completely detach from our empathy. Human beings are complicated, and sometimes participating in acts that we see as violent or heinous may be their only way of survival. You can imagine how these circumstances become so much more severe for someone as young as Ishmael was. Can any of us confidently say we would have done things drastically different in his situation?

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