"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 (Lennon-McCartney)