Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraq and Vietnam

Now that America is bogged down in Iraq, the word 'Vietnam' comes up again, saying that there are parallelism between the two.

Vietnam fortunately find their way to peace after Americans left. Sure, there was chaos in Vietnam after Americans left initially. There were many misunderstandings between the two sides. There were many sufferings initially because of mistrusts and fears.

When the international community breaks Vietnam into the North and South, our family also breaks up due to the different location that we live. We have different propagandas due to the location we live. The South portrays the North as ruthless. The North portrays the South as being oppressed by the Americans and need to be liberated. Some came in from the North with a small bag of rice to give us South people, because they thought Americans oppressed us and we are starved to death down here. Obviously, they soon find out that they have been misled ... the South has plenty due to the influx of money coming from Americans. I watched the propaganda everyday, but find it hard to believe. We are the same people ... how can we be that different? Also, some of my family members are up there. When Americans left, the family is reunited. Just as our family is reunited, many other families in the country get reunited ... and the country, as a whole, comes to peace.

Many people are upset at the Iraqis for not fighting. It's their country. I have mixed feelings about it. Like Iraq, Americans come in Vietnam, declaring the other side 'Communism' is bad, and we have to fight them. What they call 'communism' is also part of our family, or at least some of our family members are with them. I wonder if it's the same with the Iraqis, just replace 'terrorism' with 'communism', that is some of the family members are part of this group, but they are also a part of their family as well.

Also, the South is heavily influenced by Buddhism, who believe in reincarnation. The plant that you are eating could be your 'uncle' reincarnated. They have issues about taking the life of ants, flies, let alone human beings.

Bottom line, it's impossible to live on this earth and not sinning, although you want to make decisions to minimize your sin as much as possible. For example, you can choose not to eat the plant, and thereby not ending its life, but then you would starve to death. What happen if you have a family to take care of, therefore, to a plant, yes, you have ended its life and have sinned against it, but then, you save your family's life.

This was the culture I was raised in. So when a North Vietnamese came in and pointed a gun to my head, asking for the whereabout of my father and his troops, I didn't say anything. I wasn't going to be one who point the way so he can find them and harm them. He then pointed the gun at another little girl's head and pressured me to say. It's strange, losing my life wasn't a big deal, but losing another's life because I choose not to say was a tough decision. In the end, I choose not to say. I've been watching these propagandas saying that North Vietnamese are ruthless - I want to witness if he is such or it is just propaganda. I want to observe what transpire through him as he pull the trigger and takes someone life, especially someone who presents no threat to him. It wasn't fear that I felt, it was more of a curiosity. If he is still a human being, he will find it hard to pull that trigger. In the end, he walked away.

Americans didn't understand the culture in Vietnam. What is the Iraqis' culture? What do they believe? How do the Shiites different from the Sunnis? Can they be differentiated on the streets? Are there something in common between them? As I understand, the Shiites are more religious, and the Sunnis are more secular. However, they have coexisted before, so why is it such a problem now?


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