Love Versus Hatred And Injustice.

by Patrick Liew on April 8, 2013

I read with a tinge of sadness about the death of Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary. He was on trial for crimes against humanity.

I was sad not just because justice needed to be meted out but also because the world needed to know about the tragedies in Cambodia. It is a genocide that should never be obliterated from our collective memory and conscience.

Reading that report triggered me to think of that beautiful country. It also reminded me of two of the saddest events in history.

Part 1 – Lest We Forget.

On August 19, 2011, I went to one of the most tragic places on planet earth. A place that showed humankind at its worst.

I went to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia. This was the former Chao Ponhea Yat High school that was used by the Khmer Rouge as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21).

According to a tourist brochure, about 17000 political prisoners were kept behind locked doors and barbed wires from 1975 to 1979.

Many of these prisoners lived in the worst possible conditions and had to suffer many different ailments and diseases.

They went through the most inhuman forms of violence, beatings and torture, including eating human feces and drinking urine.

Many died in the process of the barbaric cruelty.

These prisoners comprise many Cambodians and also foreigners, including Vietnamese, Thais, Laotians, Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, British, French, Americans, New Zealanders, and Australians.

In my mind, we are all like prisoners together with them. So often we have locked our hearts and conscience in a prison.

Truth be told, I did not – and could not – walk through the museum. I saw a small part of it and sat outside on a cement slab for a long time.

The museum should be preserved permanently.

It must remind each and every one of us to do our part to put right the wrongs in society. Now and forever.

We must prevent this and other forms of hatred, violence and cruelty from happening anywhere on planet earth again.

I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Part 2 – Let’s Do Our Part.

Many people have said that when you go to Cambodia, you must visit one of the ‘Killing Fields.’

I have been to Cambodia and back, but I did not visit any one of them.

In fact, one of the sites was only about 15 minutes away from my hotel.

The term ‘Killing Fields’ was popularized by a Hollywood movie. It is based on the experiences of two journalists, Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg.

It refers to many sites used by the Khmer Rouge regime to kill and bury their political opponents. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million people were killed out of a population of around 8 million.

The Khmer Rouge committed what Martin Shaw, an academician, described as ‘The Purest Genocide of the Cold War Era.’ They not only massacred their people but also virtually destroyed their country.

I love Cambodia and the wonderful people in this beautiful country. It pains my heart to see so many of their people suffer one of the worst tragedies in history.

I believe and pray that this heartless experience will motivate Cambodians to rise up to be a great nation.

Together with the global community, Cambodians will do their part to promote and achieve world peace.

It is sad that humankind can rise to the highest level of love and compassion. Yet, we can also go down to the lowest level of hate and cruelty.

We have the capacity to create. We also have the capability to destroy.

In modern society, we are surrounded by material comforts. Yet, we are also saturated with emotional conflicts.

We have an explosion of knowledge, but we lack the wisdom to resolve our spiritual emptiness.

We have the technology to communicate with each other but we don’t know how to collaborate effectively with one another.

We know what is right but we still do what is wrong.

We pursue quantity of possessions and not quality of contributions.

We have been misled by hearts of greed. Meanwhile, souls cry out for love, peace and happiness.

We rape and pillage planet earth and we wonder why she does not cow in silence.

In pain and sorrow, our planet cannot but manifests her hurts and scars through global warming, tidal waves, and earthquakes.

Yet, we sleep through the signs and signals. We oftentimes continue our march down the slippery slope to destruction.

Today, humankind stands – one bomb away – from the brink of decimation.

Tomorrow, when the sun rises, I pray we will wake up to a new day. A new day of love, hope and optimism.

Our collective conscience must be awakened.

We must stretch out our hands not for more power or pleasure, but in compassion and cooperation to make our world a better home.

May our Creator have mercy on us and may we not continue to break His heart. May we allow His love to flow right through every part of our being and to every soul.

Together, let us saturate ourselves with love as we fulfill our destiny for greatness.



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