As I stood motionless at the Killing Fields, what seemed like millions of tear drops landed on my umbrella. The bleak wet day only added to my somber mood as the horror of humanity played out in my mind. Men, women, boys, girls & babies slaughtered by their fellow countrymen on a scale I will never grasp.
Looking intently at a single skull I am repulsed by humanity. This skull is just one of thousands lining the shelves, that represent up to 1.4 million murder victims in Cambodia. At the height of the killing in Cambodia I was 8 years old and I heard of how boys as young as 11 were conscripted to the Khmer Rouge to become killers. Boys then, who are now men in their forties, murderers.
It is easy to stand divorced from the moment and think we would have behaved differently.
But we all have deceived others. All been deceived.
When faced with the choice of kill, or be killed, few of us really have the strength and courage to choose anything but life.
Humanity at its core is desperately dark.
We are all horrendous.
As I traveled Cambodia every person I saw or spoke with was beautiful.
Some had bodies disfigured in ways I have never before seen, but they are beautiful.
Our Tuk Tuk drivers, beautiful.
The beggar and her child, beautiful.
Poor children playing in the water from a good well, beautiful.
Often the stories and circumstances were heart breaking, but the people …
Only senior officials of the Khmer Rouge will be brought to justice, which means tens of thousands of murderers now live ordinary lives in Cambodia. Is it possible I met some of these killers and thought they were beautiful? Yes, and I now understand that in the right circumstance we are all capable of the horror of the Khmer Rouge. (That doesn’t make it right.)
You are capable of these things.
You are horrendous.
Yet I just think … you are beautiful.
Lesson 4 from Cambodia visit 2012: We are all capable of horrendous things and we are all beautiful people.