This evening I have been working on one of the chapters of my non-fiction book and getting lost in all the copious material that is now available around me.
I started with current news and worked backwards through the familiar tale of the 'blood diamond'.
I'm not a novice to all of this. I've met and spoken to former child soldiers, read articles, watched the Hollywood film, looked at photographs and even found out that Kanye-I - myself - than- sense-West wrote a song about his internal conflict with them.
And yet, reading one paragraph in a report about how the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) took to amputating women, children and teens' hands and feet (I should mention adult men were affected too) and continued to do so even when the Sierra Leonean government offered them an olive branch in the 1996 elections- broke me and made me cry like a child.
Suddenly the unbelievable cruelty that people can inflict on others smashed me over the head and reminded me that this isn't a pretty book. The things in it won't always leave you with a yummy just-had-a-great-dessert feeling. Life can be brutal and for so many that brutality has become the norm, their history, their face-whilst for the rest of us, we weep at a distance and wish it were different.
I'm still not entirely show how yet, but that's the bit the has to change. It's not 'them' and 'us', it's not 'we' and 'they'- it's just 'us'. That's what I need to find in the middle of all this mess I'm digging and burrowing through.