Time and Space: Upon Meeting a Survivor of the Killing Fields

December 31, 2009


In the southwest of the city, trees were covered in hoar frost, Christmas lights shone through halos of dense fog and there were patches of black ice on the bridge across the Bow. My mind was far away even as I listened. I had googled Cambodia before we went to the dinner invitation, but nothing could have prepared me to meet this survivor of the “killing fields.” This gifted scientist, with an unshakable belief in God, was the sole infant who somehow miraculously clung to life while hundreds of mother’s babies lay lifeless beside him, around him, under him. He rejects the label of miracle child, preferring to travel the globe to study, to learn and to share, to either help or do no harm . . . with an intensity that can be vertiginous.


A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled the following list of cultural differences (1978) shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds. Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included this comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries.

EAST WEST
We live in time. We live in space.
We are always at rest. We are always on the move.
We are passive. We are aggressive.
We accept the world as it is. We try to change it according to our blueprint.
We like to contemplate. We like to act.
We live in peace with nature. We try to impose our will on nature.
Religion is our first love. Technology is our passion.
We delight to think about the meaning of life. We delight in physics.
We believe in freedom of silence. We believe in freedom of speech.
We lapse in meditation We strive for articulation.
We marry first, then love. We love first, then marry.
Our marriage is the beginning of a love affair. Our marriage is a happy end of a romance.
Love is an indissoluble bond. Love is a contract.
Our love is mute. Our love is vocal.
We try to conceal it from the world. We delight in showing it to others.
Self-denial is a secret to our survival. Self-assertiveness is the key to our success.
We are taught from the cradle to want less and less. We are urged every day to want more and more.
We glorify austerity and renunciation. We emphasize gracious living and enjoyment.
Poverty is to us a badge of spiritual elevation. Poverty is to us a sign of degredation.
In the sunset years of life, we renounce the world and prepare for the hereafter. We retire to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Notes

Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included the following comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries. A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled this list of cultural differences shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds.

Webliography and Bibliography

Chung, Douglas K. Taoism: a Portrait. http://origin.org/UCS/sbcr/taoism.cfm

Chung, Douglas K. 1992.

2 Responses to “Time and Space: Upon Meeting a Survivor of the Killing Fields”

  1. kevin Says:

    This is a very interesting study, Claude Levi Strauss spent his life than any tribu can develop mythologies. And, think those people are very different mythologies.
    Have written some ideas on mythology interaction:

    http://penseesjour.blogspot.com/2009/10/modern-mythology-part-iii.html#links


  2. Nice post….very useful information…..


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