Not only universal but also innocence personified.

I’m writing this today as I return from a 6 mile run around the streets of my neighbourhood.

Running past the playground of a local junior school, and hearing the sounds of children laughing, put me mentally straight to a situation that I found myself in years ago on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan.

It was there that I witnessed the carnage of a suicide bomb obliterating not only the laughter of children inside and outside of a school, but indeed the children themselves.

Listening to them one second, and stepping through their body parts and blood the next!

Of my 40 years in conflict areas around the world, it’s the one sole scenario that would change me forever.

I can take war, I can take soldiers and even civilians being killed, wounded or kidnapped and tortured. But put an innocent child in that position…and I’m raging…no matter where it is on the planet.

So with years of nightmares and thinking on this single event, my wee run today singularly kicked in the process of realizing that children’s laughter is not only a universal language, but it’s on the whole innocence too.

I’ve passed many schools around the world over the years, when the kids’ laughter rings around the play areas, you cannot tell the language…it’s the same sounds anywhere…which makes it universal. It’s one of the loveliest sounds on Earth in my opinion.

Anywhere in the world, a child is born innocent, and grows it’s first years with good intent. That intent is mainly mental and physical growth of one’s self through nutrition, sleep, health and hygiene…and above all, love.

However, as we see on the news every day, that’s not the case for way too many. Caught up in a vicious cycle of wars and famine that I have no doubt could be prevented in the first place.

I firmly believe that there is no place for this in the 21st century.

Whether children are being brought up by bigoted parents such as behind the “peace walls” of Northern Ireland’s working class estates, or within the competitive tribalism of Afghanistan, or even the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews within Israel and the Palestine Territories, it is always the case that a young child will lose their innocence when educated in that manner by an adult or older sibling.

Just look at religion, and just how many children follow their parents into it…and many children with no say in it whatsoever I’m sure.

If that religion is breeding intolerance for our fellow man in any shape or form, then in my view it’s not a place for young innocent children…parental led or otherwise.

For the second week running, we are witnessing from the media way too many innocent children being killed in one conflict alone…Israel v Palestine. Let alone the rest of the planet.

I’ve heard Arab and Jewish children playing in their playgrounds…they sound exactly the same as they laugh loudly and play. For example of just a handful of countries that I’ve lived in, I’ve heard children here in America, I’ve heard children in the UK, I’ve heard children in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Kosovo, Serbia, France, Italy, Germany, and I’ve heard children in Afghanistan…until the day they were wickedly silenced all within a millisecond.

I would love to see an honest adult led effort globally to ensure that the innocent children of today’s world do not grow to hate their neighbour…and just maybe in years to come after my lifetime…the sounds of adults’ laughter will also become a universal language.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

Categories Uncategorized2 Comments


  1. Well said Bob, children are incredible, loving and loving , children by their natures are innocents and accepting of everyone.
    Hate, bigotry, discrimination are all taught or learned behaviours. World would be a better world if everyone had the values of uncorrupted non judgemental children. Laughter helps so many ailments.

  2. Really brings it home Bob and the values of life and families under these pressing times ahead.
    I hear you reference the nightmares, SL wasn’t great 3 years. However I salute the Peace – Project embedded there amongst other global projects.
    Stay Safe Bob and Family.
    A Wee beer one day in ( H ) – Malvern !.

    Andre ( H )

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