Christian Long

Sophal Ear: Escaping the Khmer Rouge

In TED Talks on April 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Reflection by KATHERINE H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Sophal Ear:  Escaping the Khmer Rouge

‘To liberate our people’ seems to be a popular motivation for the past communist regimes all over the world. While this motivation seems to be a lie, it is unclear whether the true motivation is the obvious power hunger, or legitimate faith in the concept of a totalitarian government. Specifically, addressing the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, the governing party had their ‘face’ for their propaganda. The ‘face’ was to aid the people in escaping the conflict in Vietnam from American bombings. While most of the attention was focused on Vietnam during this time, many were distracted from other turmoil so close to the world focus. A country’s own rulers murdering more than 1/7 of the country’s population is no small matter. The regime was led by Pol Pot, who was peasant born, which makes sense considering communism’s ‘equality’ and highlights the corruption influenced by the power hungry society all over the world. Pol Pot hoped to establish a ‘rural communist utopia’, by closing doors to the rest of the world he kept the deaths a secret for a short period of time. Perhaps to an uneducated, poor Cambodian communist utopia may sound like a great deal, but to any one with knowledge of Communism’s history or consequences, it is by no means great.

The video about the Khmer Rouge addressed the “bodies piled in the mass graves of the killing fields”, this line caught my attention and struck my emotions strongly.

To think of so many innocent families, that did not escape so luckily as Sophal’s, being killed off like flies with a strong possibility that there was not even a legitimate reason but power hunger and corruption. The massive population loss will forever be in Cambodia’s history and the pasts of those who survived. To those who survived, it was not only a population loss, but a loss of friends, family, and even a mere neighbor. Sophal’s mother with the knowledge of the harm that would come to her children gave all she had to save Sophal and his siblings. Any mother would understand the obligation to save your children, not only because they are your own blood, but out of maternal love that comes naturally regardless of any circumstances. I would not know the feeling of love towards your own children, however I am positive everyone has seen or experienced a mother giving the best to the children while the mother takes the least. For a mother to have risked death for her children would not be shocking in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge.

The video also addresses the bank bombing which is interesting to me, everyone considers money and power to be the ‘the root of all evils’. Ironically, in this regime money was not the root of any evil because it was banned. This seems at some degree ridiculous, but who needs money when you own not only everything, but everyone? Complete dictatorship is not even a tempting political system to the population, but addressing the ‘advantages’ such as equality seems to influence some into becoming more vulnerable to the regime’s process of overtaking the country. By forcing Communism upon a country, taking away individuality, opportunities, and competition, the government chooses to erase any advancement that the country has succeeded.

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