Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Killing Fields

The movie came out in 1984, the year I graduated high school. Somehow, through the very narcissistic haze of my senior year, running for and being elected Treasurer of the Student Council, yearbooks, proms, being 19 and cute (was a year behind myself because once in America and starting school, they had no idea where to put me, so they stuck me in 7th grade when I should have been in 8th... maybe even 9th), the impact of this movie filtered through to me. Which is funny; cuz I don't think I ever even saw the whole movie... but I remember that it won awards and I remember the stories about Dith Pran, and about the man who portrayed him in the film, Dr. Haing S. Ngor.

As a kid in Jamaica, I was pretty much sheltered from the day-to-day images of the Vietnam War; our TV was extremely limited, and Jamaica was much more concerned with its own survival. But every so often when an American would come to visit, talk would turn to the war, and I have a vague memory of when it ended. I remember hearing the stories of the collapse of Ho Chi Min City.

In my my mind, the movie was associated with Vietnam, but I couldn't tell you why, or how. But it was the first times that the horrors and suffering of war made an impact on me, even though it all seemed so very far away from me and my little world.

In that same hazy way, I was aware of the passing of Dith Pran, the journalist whose story became the basis for the movie. This morning, looking for something else entirely, I found this video:



I constantly wonder what drives humans to do this to each other. What causes genocide? How do regimes or people or politicians justify this to themselves? Dith Pran says that one time is too many... but it happens all the time. The Native Americans. The Africans. Rwanda. Kosova. Bosnia. Germany. Cambodia. And it's still happening. Will happen again.

Humans talk a good game... but nothing ever changes. Why is that?

This even makes me start a new tag... things that make me incredibly sad.

Through the fog that is my every day, and the every day problems I'm facing right now, I've been aware of the protests surrounding the Olympic Torch. Half of me wonders whether this type of thing is really appropriate... taking an event that is based on good sportsmanship and brotherhood, and turning it into something else entirely. Whether it's right to boycott the Olympics in China, to protest their treatment of Tibet. I'd be annoyed if I got to a karate tournament, and the the Sun couldn't compete because protesters were causing disruption. People train their whole lives to make it to the Olympics, and wouldn't it be cool if humans could all be in one place, and earn each other's respect on a level playing field? Just once? Would it cause an understanding, a brotherhood?

But on the other hand.... the fact that I've become more aware of what's happening in Tibet speaks volumes. And so I sort of appreciate the fact that I've been made aware.

I dunno. Things like this can set me to ruminatin' for days....

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