On January 23rd we returned from an Island where we did not have electricity and therefore internet. Upon returning I was overwhelmed by messages and information about the women’s march around the country. The largest protest in US history. It was emotional for me to read, I felt a longing to be there but also glad to be where I am. I felt immense pride in my people, especially the turnout in Bellingham 10,000 strong. You rock Liz Isaly!!! I am inspired by the message of love and action.
I am also emotional traveling through a country that was recently devastated by a narcissistic dictator. It was only 40 years ago that Pol Pot wanted to make Cambodia great again. The Khmer Rouge regime removed intellectuals, free thinkers and anyone who was in opposition to his narrow view. An entire generation was wiped out or forced to slaughter. There are so few people over 50 years old and the few who survived suffered so greatly. The country is young, but healing, beautiful, kind, welcoming and generous. The Epic Arts program in Kampot calls Cambodia, The phoenix of Asia – rising from the ashes.
We are trying to do our part by being open hearted Americans, getting to know people and spreading the love. My comments below are not new ideas or revelations but still so important to say out loud.
We have met Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists. Everyone we have met has offered a kind heart, generosity and openness.
Islam is NOT Terrorism – Hate and ignorance is terrorism. And Buddhism is not peace – loving action is peace. My antidote for prejudice and judgement? Having a conversation, asking someone about their family, observing someone with their children. Learning something about their culture, language, life.
I will wrap up this reflection with my own story of facing prejudice. While at Angkor Wat, visiting the temples I had some very judgmental thoughts and negative feelings toward one ethnic group arriving in great numbers on tour buses. It happened two days in a row, I was annoyed, I was starting to overgeneralize and did not like how it felt but the stronger I felt it, the more true and justified it seemed. So I outed myself and talked to john. He pointed out first that the tour bus demographic in all cultures is not typically our cup of tea but even then, each of those people has a story. I tried to keep perspective into the evening and look for counter examples. At dinner, we watched a large family at first appear to be ignoring each other, all on cell phones including the very old grandma. I judged again then realized that they were playing an interactive game and totally enjoying each other with fits of laughter mixed in. Mia and I fell in love with the grandma on her I-phone. John asked me later, “did you dislike those people?” “no, not at all.” The next day, Mia and I were climbing steep temple stairs at sunset and two older women got the giggles as they climb/crawled up the stairs. We were so endeared to these women and the giggles were infectious, everyone around them joined in with the laughter and the struggle. I loved these women. My tour bus angst began to fade as people became people again. (but its still better to go early in the morning or at lunch before the buses arrive: ) Negative Judgement is a slippery slope, toward self, toward others. It’s work to keep it in check.
Thank you to all the love warriors out there working daily to protect freedom, improve equality and protect the environment. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to be with my family and travel. I think I’m learning to be a better person.