Monday, September 18, 2006

Seven Simple Words

"They are us, and we are them."

I found these these seven words of one syllable each in The New York Times of Saturday, September 16, 2006. They are from a quotation cited in Seth Mydans's heart-rending yet compassionate profile under the headline "Survivor Gently Adds Voices to Cambodia's Dark Tale."

The speaker, a victim of the brutalities of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge in the 1970's, was referring to a present-day encounter with a former Khmer Rouge cadre. "They are the evil side of us. Crimes are committed by human beings, by people just like me," he added.

This obviously difficult but conciliatory understanding seems to have provided a measure of liberation for Youk Chhang, the victim.

I cannot claim to have the capacity voiced by Mr. Youk Chhang. (I can pray for it.) Clearly, he comes by his views by a long and wretched path:

"With financing mostly from the United States government and from Sweden, he and a staff that has now grown to 50 people have mapped about 20,000 mass grave sites, 189 prisons and 80 memorials, and have transcribed 4,000 interviews with former members of the Khmer Rouge," according to the Times.

Let it be noted that Mr. Youk Chhang has compiled hundreds of thousands of documents to be handed over to prosecutors in a United Nations-financed trial. Fewer than a dozen are expected to actually face trial.

I have read similar stories of striking reconciliation in South Africa, after apartheid.

Seven simple words.

Without them, where am I? Who am I?

Without them, where are we? Who are we?

And with those seven simple words, what do we become?

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."

I Am the Walrus

Coo-coo. Ca-choo.



Odat said...

"Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury" - E.H. Chapin


azgoddess said...

what we do in the name of peace

should be outlawed!

shadow falcon said...

Cambodia, Burma (I could name loads more) there are so many places that completely ignored by the media and need more help.

Julie said...

Actually, I believe it's "Goo goo g'joob." But who's counting. ;-)

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Many agree with you; that's for sure. And Wikipedia has lots on the whole song. But having grown up with the song, it's always been koo-koo-ka choo to my ears (c's and k's interchangeable, I guess). I "imagine" John Lennon would be roaring with laughter, or merely gloating, that we're fussing this much over such nonsense. Then again, James Joyce apparently knew that obscurity would grant him lots of fame. What do I know? "The Walrus was Paul"? But not Pawlie.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The old political cartoon, Pogo, said something similar, which has always stayed with me:

"We have seen the enemy, and he is us."

Sadly, atrocities that we label as "inhumane" are only too human. Other members of the animal kingdom do not harm each other as we do, we of the allegedly large brain and superior moral sense.

This is a fine and thought-provoking post.

I've always thought it was "coo-coo ca-choo. And I'll beat up anyone who says that it's not.

Mimi Lenox said...

Stop the violence, people. Great post, Pawlie.

JR's Thumbprints said...

We are our own worst enemy and Mr. Youk Chhang understands that. His actions show that he's willing to do something about it, which in turn, makes this world a much better place to live-in. We need more people like him.

Andrew said...

Hey Paul,
Laugh or...

I tried replying to your earlier email but for some reason my mailer didn't like the return address. Silly computers. T-shirts? This is a little outside my mission statement :o) (...and I'm not sure what kind of jpeg you were referring to.) If that works for your store, feel free to run with the idea however you see fit and good luck with it.

Have a great day!

CoralPoetry said...

Pawlie Kokonuts

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Kind regards,