A Change Of Gear #thoughts

It’s a happy week, this lead up to No.1 son’s nuptials on Saturday. There’s lots to do, what with the reception happening at home. I’ve a lot of jobs to do and while I do them I listen to the radio. It’s full of the constantly moving story that is Afghanistan. The BBC interviewed one Afghan who twice since 14th August has been told he and his family can join one of the escape flights and twice told his application has been rejected. WTF. These stories are heart wrenching because we all can’t really believe the Taliban will be any better than before. As I listened my mind drifted back 4 years to a holiday in Cambodia. On our last day we visited one of the notorious Killing Fields. This is what I wrote then…

We travelled to Cheong Ek, the Genocidal Centre based at one of the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields that is a memorial to the thousands killed there. It is a peaceful place, full of shading trees, blossom, butterflies, hens and silent people. So silent. Everyone is alone in themselves. Children and teens take their time, they are beyond fidgeting, understanding perhaps this is a special place, through the body language of their carers. It hollows you out, this place, in the functionality of what transpired every night under cover of darkness and loud revolutionary music.

Bullets weren’t used as too expensive so any instrument was pressed into service. Even a stout tree. The Killing Tree. But for the fact every piece of bark has a hair band hanging from it giving it a jolly rainbow appearance it would be unremarkable. Yet it was here that children, small enough to be picked up and swung were killed, brutally often in front of their mother’s before they too were killed. Pol Pot killed families to stop any familial revenge. ‘To kill a tree, first you must dig up the roots’. One of many sick slogans we heard. Truly it beggars belief.

I wandered back to the Stupa monument. It is a simple shrine of classical proportions with Hindu and Buddhist iconography built into the decorations. But then your eyes adjust.

You see the metres high glass sides filled with skulls. When you see them you cannot look away. Hundreds of them, catalogued by age and sex. There are other bones there, clothes too, not that you see them. How can you move beyond those staring, deep sad empty eye sockets, still asking why.

If not now, when? If not me, who?

I admit to a tear. Several.  So many questions but mostly why do we still do this to each other? We need to teach how this terrible event came about, alongside the Holocaust and Rwanda and Srebrenica and the other genocides. It is the creation of the conditions that is so appalling, just as much as the killing itself. Unless our young people can see the path their leaders might be on, how can they stop them? It is already too late when the terror has taken hold; frankly most people would find it hard to resist the basic kill or be killed requirement of these regimes, when they have become established.

Do not let governments, in our name, align themselves with killers, for ‘strategic’ reasons or any spurious justifications of short term political expediency. It never leads to good. The reasons are rarely, if ever, sufficiently compelling. And stop selling arms, period. Because others do, why should we?

Have we just abandoned the Afghanistanis to this fate? History suggests it could well be some version of it. But then I wrote…

I remain amazed at how Cambodia is dealing with its past. The world should revere the tough determination of this harshly treated yet hardy people to be themselves and achieve reconciliation and acceptance on a personal level despite what every family hereabouts suffered.

It’s sometimes bloody difficult to be an optimist but if there’s a nation of optimists on this planet Cambodia is in the top three. I think at heart I’m one third Cambodian (the rest being one third loon and one third Labrador). It’s all that keeps me plodding on.

Today I feel sad, sad for so many people now terrified about the knock at the door the hope of some sort of free future disappearing in a military transport plane. We need to do better. I don’t have any answers but we need to. If our cherished freedoms are meant to mean anything we can’t just ignore what happens elsewhere. Especially when we’ve managed to help create the conditions. I’m also hopeful, ever hopeful. Sometimes that’s all we have, too.

In my case I also have Dog…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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28 Responses to A Change Of Gear #thoughts

  1. The real problem seems to me to be that you don’t interfere with another country’s politics without acknowledging that it’s not just A&E-type intervention, it’s the long haul, longer than 20 years. You especially don’t interfere on another continent thousands of miles away. It’ll come back to bite not only you but thousands of others. Too late for those thoughts now, but don’t forget the role Imperial Russia and then the USSR played in all this.
    It’s all part of Homo Sapiens’ nature to try to dominate, though – our survival as a species so far probably owes its continuing presence on this planet to this trait. It’s not nice.
    I’m currently thinking a lot about 9/11 and the fact that there and now today in Afghanistan it’s the ordinary person who cops it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Was talking about Afghanistan, not Cambodia, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      No it’s not nice and feels hardwired as is our ability to ignore their behaviour. Tony Blair drove the decision and yet even after we went in he achieved a huge majority. Ditto Thatcher and the Falklands though the circs were different. I suppose I have to accept we are irredeemably bellicose as a nation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Misguidedly trying to help and thinking military intervention is a solution often feature.
        Once religion and politics get involved it seems to be insoluble.


  2. willowdot21 says:

    A dog and a medium sized park!
    Seriously though the world never learns it just keeps making the same mistakes. We, or our leaders have turned a blind eye all through history and will no doubt do so until startrek and their alliances evolve! We are not the only nation either there is not a country in the world who’s leaders have not done just the same… Not one !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. joylennick says:

    If only there was a ‘good’ micro-chip which could be inserted at birth to ensure the bearer promoted kindness and care for his human contemporaries…If only!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think your comparison to Cambodia is very appropiate. The Taliban have no tolerance for individual freedom. It works against their ignorant desire to dominate the masses. You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a world leader like Biden who simply pulls the plug and leaves all the innocent ones to suffer under a band of uneducated thugs. One could say we never should have gone there, but to naively withdrawal is a crime. I like your little patch of artificial turf on the bench. Dog is indeed a comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ThingsHelenLoves says:

    The current situation in Afghanistan was predicted long ago by many who served there. Who listens to the little people though? Dog is a handsome chap, nothing like some time with a four paws to make it all feel a bit more optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      He has a grand perspective… food walks sniffs sleep and cuddles… if only. And the frustration of our forces must know no bounds at times. Be assured Helen that everyone I know is eternally grateful they are ours and for what they do. Go give the bloke a salute from me!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The historical timeline of Afghanistan, going back to Darius of Babylonia, does not bode well for its current situation, or for its future. The UK has pretty well managed to help mess up practically every area of the world it has ever had a hand in, sometimes alone, more often with the help of many other countries both large and small. I was a very small part of the messing up for a period of 28 years and, I suppose, we are all part of the general failure by allowing such situations to continue.

    That said, I have to live in hope, and optimism, that we can, and will, change. Common sense will prevail. We will stop, and reverse, global warming. We will cease to expect others to do everything for us. We will ensure a fairer share of wealth, opportunity, and reward, and next Saturday will be a lovely sunny day, not too hot, perfect for dog to get lots of attention!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. JT Twissel says:

    I’ve read about the killing fields, ugh. I think after twenty years it’s going to be hard for Afghanistan to go backwards. I heard an “expert” predict that China will wait for the country to fall apart and then move in and exploit their mineral deposits. Sending my best wishes for the perfect day! (and if something does go astray, may it be in a way that makes everyone giggle – including the bride and groom!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. JT Twissel says:

    Oh – forgot to add, can I reblog this piece? It’s beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 20 years and we just walk away? What did we achieve? Less than nothing. I despair.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. A very tragic situation, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Mick Canning says:

    We need to do better. Yes, that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? And by ‘we’ I mean the human race, not just one particular country or culture. Just don’t ask me how it’s going to happen.


  13. JT Twissel says:

    Reblogged this on Saying Nothing in Particular and commented:
    A solemn reminder …

    Liked by 1 person

  14. George says:

    This is the best thing I’ve read on the current situation. Not that it gives any answers but it does provide a chink of hope. The fear is how great the suffering will be before that hope reaches fruition. We absolutely must do better.


  15. Excellent piece. Thank you for reposting. We still have time to do better. It just takes leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

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