Hill of Poisonous Trees and The Fields of Death.
(3 years, 8 months, 20 days)
I spent a couple of days recently contemplating the subject of hate in the beautiful country of Cambodia. It was a sobering experience, exploring the wretched landscape of evil, but surely there is no better place in the world to do so. From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 17,000 people were incarcerated at Tuol Sleng Prison, also called S-21, and 1.7 million were murdered at The Killing Fields of Chueng Ek. The only proof of these atrocities are bloodstained walls, twisted barbed wire fences, bones and photos of the unfortunate, and memories. Indeed, every local that I met had tiny ghosts floating in their eyes, no matter what their age, no matter if they’d experienced it first hand or not. It was tangible. You could feel the pain in the air.
I've been to the Dauchau Concentration Camp in Germany. I've been to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. Granted, there are many places on this planet where you can stand right there on the killing floor and feel this kind of hatred. It just so happened that I could really feel it in Cambodia, because of the fact that it happened within my lifetime, though I’ll be damned if I can recall ever hearing about it in those formidable years. I do remember Disco, Jimmy Hoffa, the end of the Vietnam war, Patty Hearst, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Fraser, Gerald Ford falling down, Star Wars, the Iran Hostage crisis, and Three Mile Island. But for the life of me I can’t recall ever hearing Pol Pot’s evil name on the evening news. Not once. No, I didn’t hear about this madman until I found a lovely coffee table book on Angkor Wat and became interested in Cambodia just as I was edging past 30. That’s 15 years after the ugly truth.
We live smack in the middle of the Information Age. We hear about almost everything going on in the world, whether we want to or not. So perhaps I can chalk my many years of ignorance up to the fact that we didn’t have CNN or internet back then. Or perhaps not, because I'm constantly amazed at the number of people I meet who are oblivious to the pertinent and political goings-on of our contemporary world. I mean, how many people are aware of the ongoing genocide happening in Chad? – What? Where the @#$% is Chad? Yep. Someone actually asked me that recently. And what about the 100+ troops that Obama is sending to Uganda? – What!? The US is starting a war in Africa now?! Wait. Take it easy. They’re just going to help regional forces to remove (capture or kill) Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. – What?! Obama is sending troops to kill Christians?!?!
Oh, for @#$% sake! That’s the only reason people know about this precious little piece of news, and you can thank the wonderful Rush Limbaugh for that. Never mind the fact that the nefarious Mr. Kony heads an army which has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2 million people since 1986. Just so long as Limbaugh can prove, once and for all, that Obama is Anti-Christian and a Muslim, then it will make headline news.
Here's an article excerpt that I found to further illustrate my point... Masses of information from the media constantly bombard us yet, paradoxically, often the most important goes uncovered. Take for instance, Africa. A country like Sudan suddenly comes under the spotlight. Reports of rape, massacre and corruption in the Darfur region reinforce all the stereotypes about the “dark continent” of savage aliens. And then, just as quickly, Sudan will fall from view... (Richard Keeble/Professor of Journalism at Lincoln University.)
So what is it going to take for us to stand up and pay attention to the atrocities that are happening right this minute, all over the world? Government sanctioned rape, murder and torture? Here are a few to think about: Syria, Iran, Central Africa, Israel, Russia, China. Oh, and don't think for a second that the USA isn't on this list, because we're as guilty as sin. Just follow the trials/army cover up of Seattle's own Kill Team, the soldiers involved in the Maywand District Killings in Afghanstan, if you have any doubts. Yes, the list could go on, but it would probably be easier to list countries not involved in conflict and genocide.
So what is it going to take for us to evolve into something better? Are we all (myself included) so anesthetized by our credit cards and cafe lattes that we don't care about people suffering elsewhere on our planet? Perhaps we all just feel helpless. Like we can't affect change, so we ignore what's beyond us. I'd like to think that's it, and that we're not all just a bunch of selfish @$$hole$. I'd like to imagine that if we could, we'd all spread PEACE...but then again, I'm a dreamer.