Pulling up something I published years ago while in Vietnam
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
So I have physically left Vietnam now, but the experiances and images will never leave me. I feel such a deep connection to the people and land there. I experianced much more than I wrote about and I feel a saddness for not conveying my emotions while they were raw. If I had to sum up my trip to Vietnam in one word I think it would be revelational. Everything about Vietnam was vastly different than what my white bread US of A American lifestyle has taught me. I was untaught many things in the process. The people of that land have influenced me in ways I am yet to fully comprehend. The land feels incredibly sacred to me, possibly becasue of the (over) 3 million Vietnamese people who have lost their lives on that soil while fighting for their independance from colonial/imperial rule. The legacy of war was something I was mainly intrested in learning more about when departing the States on May 15th, 2006. But now (one month later) that I have been there I can see that Vietnam is more than a country torn apart by centuries of war and foregin control/ownership. What I seen was a resiliant, brialliant and compassionate people who have not only learned how to defend their land but also how to live with their land. The Vietnamese are survivors and even though their government is about the enter the WTO, I think the people will continue to strive towards independance. I spoke with some elders and some youth and got the same impression: "we won't be colonized for much longer." I am inspiried by their strength and courage and can only hope that mentality continues to find its way into the rest of the world. Several times I was told "America #1" by locals (in the Saigon and Hue, not Hanoi) and I would respond "it's a lie..." But now I see what they mean. They are talking about the myth of America...the myth that America is free and that all "all men are created equal." They don't see the rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ect., and how could they when all the US exports is the idea of our moral superiority slapped between the well disguised bread of imperalism. I am not saying that these same things don't exist here as well (the womyn want to be as white and thin as possible and I was told that "it's okay to be gay just as long as their kids are straight...") but it's not so obvious...yet. There really is no seperation between the classes, all live together. There might be a super wealthy foreigner living right across the street from the boat people. I know that every nation has their problems, but like Howard Zinn says, when a country like the US declears itself a democracy and then runs off to kill thousands of innocent (and maybe even guilty) people for oil, or when 1 out of every 5 children in our "democracy" are born into poverty, or when there are more then 40 countries that have better records on infant mortality rates (including Cuba) or when we lead the world with the highst incarceration rate (more then 2 million), I don't belive that is a democracy. When I was told "America #1" these are the kinds of things I thought about when I responded "it's a lie..." and to me it is. We have a great constitution, but we don't follow it. Funny how Ho Chi Minh adapted our national anthem after the war was won... I think one of the biggest lesson's this trip has taught me is that there is no absoultes (which people have been telling me for ages). There really is no perfect nation, and yes, even in the US there are great things (like the fact that won't be hung for writing this...but who knows really, things are always changing!) But I do still think war is the ultimate failure of progress. War is brutal and I have now seen it from a first world's perspective (the people suffer) and a third world's perpective (the people suffer), the one thing we have in common: suffering. Washington, not the people of the US, spends our money on mendacity and murder and theft and rape and... Hanoi spends it's money on trying to become just like America...Let's hope that the people of Vietnam will stop it before it happens and take back their land from foreign compaines like Cannon, Nike and North Face. I can only hope for us in America to do the same. The real power does not lie in obsequiousness but rather in resistance to the power machine.
Peace out my fellow global citizens...