The musical Miss Saigon is a haunting reminder of the horrors of war and the social conflicts off the battlefield that adversely affect so many people. One of the most heart-rending songs from Miss Saigon is called “Bui Doi,” referring to the children left behind after war, the American-Asian children fathered by American soldiers, the children often nobody wants. The term Bui Doi is Vietnamese for “the dust of life.” The brief lyrics to this ballad are as follows:
They’re called Bui Doi
The Dust of Life,
Conceived in Hell
And born in strife.
They are the living reminders of
all the good we failed to do
We can’t forget
We must not forget
That they are all
Our children too.
Having just seen Miss Saigon for the second time recently (and 26 years after the initial viewing), I am again reminded of how children, innocent children, are the victims of the inhumanity of adults. Indeed, we tend to treat children as the Dust of Life (the collateral damage) in the battles of politicians and world leaders.
Unfortunately, all wars leave such scars on society, and not always by illegitimacy. Children suffer from the innocent death of siblings and parents in war. Even “smart” bombs cannot prevent the inevitable loss of innocent lives. Whether those lives are in New York City (World Trade Center), Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Sudan, or Rwanda children will always suffer.
Children also suffer from fear-mongering and/or blatant witlessness of our leaders not recognizing their desperate situation. Families that are seeking a better life should not just be labeled as a horde or a caravan but assisted to lawfully seek a reasonable solution to a better life. We should be seeking to alleviate pain and suffering and to elevate all of our children to a better life.
After all, the children of the world are “all our children too.” And when we neglect our children, we have to live with the reality that their suffering is the living reminder of all the good that we failed to do. No child deserves the designation of Bui Doi. We can always do better.