Everyone has their own idea of a universal language. You know, that language that everyone understands, no matter what their native tongue. Some say music, others say math (although some will argue that music and math are one and the same).
I say that the universal language is...laughter.
Not just any laughter, though. Not the laughter of adults watching a funny movie or enjoying company at a cocktail party. Or the laughter of groups watching a comedian.
It's the laughter of children and, more specifically, children at play. No matter if a child speaks English, Arabic, German, Portuguese, Swahili, or Tagalog, they all know how to laugh. Unlike learning a language, there is no grammar, no syntax, no rolling the tongue or pursing the lips to learn to form sounds. Even at a young age, children know how to laugh at something fun or even something funny.
Yesterday I took a break from the office and went with two of my Soldier/journalists over to the other side of Victory Base Complex where US Soldiers host Iraqi Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. I'm not sure of the particulars, but the program is gaining strength and gets more and more popular with each passing week...with both the Iraqi children and US Soldiers.
There were about 35 or so kids present, ranging in age from 2 to older teens. I expected there to be more boys than girls but I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were more girls than boys! And very stylish young girls, with earrings and rhinestone-studded headbands and jeans that looked like they came straight from The Gap.
We spent hours playing with these children...soccer, volleyball, and good, old-fashioned water-balloon fights. We did crafts of painting and drawing, some classes on first aid and fire safety. Even the smallest little girl, about 2 years old, put on the full-blown fireman's outfit of heavy boots, suspenders, and silver fire suit. Well, she came up to the knees of the fire suit, but she did wear the helmet! Most of the kids got to put out an actual fire with a fire extinguisher. Sometimes they aimed at the people standing around the fire..! Medics showed the children how they put bandages and wraps on wounds. Half of the pictures that I took have children in them with wraps on their wrists or ankles. Not because they were wounded but because it was cool...and fun. The medics put a stethoscope into the ears of some of the children and then put the other end on their chests. The kids has looks of amazement and wonder when they realized they were listening to their own heartbeat.
But the best part was hearing the sounds of the children's laughter. Laughter from just having a good time, from running and jumping and kicking balls and hitting a US Soldier in the head with a water balloon.
As I watched these children play I realized that, like children in the US, they are the future of this country. They are the ones that in 20 years our government will be in diplomatic relations with.
I wish them, and their families, all the peace and blessings of a bright and happy future. And many more days filled with laughter.