A terrible thing came across my view.
Imagine you are on a cyclo rick shaw and roaming around the old ruins and historic quarter on an ancient vietnamese city. In broken english your driver is telling you of the Kings and Queens of old that lived in this area and the incredible world that existed for over a thousand years. You are in the Imperial city of Hue Vietnam. Then you see bullet holes in the walls all around you. The driver points out an old US military bunker that is now a house.
And suddenly you come across a simple building that is a bungalow style home. In front of this structure is a number of concrete forms that are shaped like small lotus flowers and near to them are small concrete circular mounds. The driver says “flower is girl … circle is boy”. I don’t understand … is my response. After a short back and forth of interpretation I learn that I am looking at the memorial of a nursury and the representation of 48 toddlers and infants that died in a bomb blast during the Vietnam war. There is no traffic around this place. A small road with no sound, I am in absolute silence. I can feel my heart quicken as a long pause ensues. My thoughts race forward in disbelief and before I lose my mind I ask to leave. “I cannot see” I say to the driver and we silently move on. But I did see and the image is burned into my memory forever.
Toddlers and infants … the horror. Who is to blame. The Americans? The VC? The guidance system on the weapon? The Intelligence community? The west? The communists? Fate?
Do the souls of the young who perished really have an interest in such things? Do the parents who are haunted for the rest of their lives care of such things in the end?
All that matters is that they are dead.
It happens even now. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. Are we as a species really capable of learning? Perhaps every leader of this great planet before being sworn in should be made to visit these places first. We pay enough taxes for their airfare and accommodation so that they will see as I am seeing and just engage their brains with perspective.
I wrote recently when I was in Saigon of the new generation that is rising before us and the smiles and hope I saw in them as I came from the airport. That moment means so much more to me now.