I have never experienced any kind of war first-hand, so I have had to get my personal understanding of war through books, news articles, films, songs, plays, etc.
Today I was home because it was a snow day, which means the schools were closed in our school district. Since I am employed by the school district, I did not have work today.
Also, I took it easy today, because I have been feeling a little off. Not really sick, but occasional feelings of chills, and occasional feelings of too warm, but so far, I have been able to fend off anything coming my way.
Because I wasn't feeling up to par, I decided to take it easy, and watch a movie that had been sitting on my table by the front door for a while called, "The Killing Fields".
Now, when I shared with a friend today what movie I watched, and that I wasn't feeling well, her response was, " it doesn't seem like a comforting/healing kind of movie though."
This may be true, but it is what I chose to watch.
The reason I chose this book is because of a book I recently read titled "The Rent Collector", which is set in Cambodia. Here is a description of what the book is about.
The Rent Collector is the story of a young mother, Sang Ly, struggling to survive by picking through garbage in Cambodia's largest municipal dump. Under threat of eviction by an embittered old drunk who is charged with collecting rents from the poor of Stung Meanchey, Sang Ly embarks on a desperate journey to save her ailing son from a life of ignorance and poverty. It’s a tale of discovery and redemption in which she learns that literature, like hope, is found in the most unexpected places.
Though the book is a work of fiction, it was inspired by real people living at Stung Meanchey.
Yes, this story was inspired by a true story. You find more about the documentary that inspired the book here.
So, to help me understand how Cambodia became the country it was in this book, I decided to watch
"The Killing Fields". The Killing Fields is a 1984 British drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg.
Two of my friends have their own personal stories about this time in history.
One story involves my friends who were medical missionaries in Thailand during the time the refugees were leaving Cambodia to relief camps across the Cambodia/Thai border. As my friend recalled the story, she said it was rather eerie as the refugees came across the border, wearing dark clothing and making no sound. I found out later after reading an article about the Cambodian Genocide that , "It was possible for people to be shot simply for knowing a foreign language, wearing glasses, laughing, or crying. One Khmer slogan ran 'To spare you is no profit, to destroy you is no loss."
Another friend had a completely different experience about this period in our history.
Her husband was in the U.S. Air Force and fought in Vietnam. After Vietnam they returned to the state from overseas, and he became part of the most elite squadron of fighter pilots at that time. He flew the newest and super complicated of all supersonic jets, the F1-11A, and the families were so proud of what they did for their country. But she said little did any of the wives, families or civlians know of the secret of the illegal war in Cambodia. Over a two year period, her husband's squadron would be gone four to six months at a time. He could never talk about it and loved ones know not to ask. This was from 1973-1975. She said she doesn't blame him, he was following orders and has paid a heavy price of his own.
One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, wrote a book called "The Screwtape Letters". The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility for securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient".
This is a portion of an article from the C.S. Lewis Institute website regarding C.S. Lewis on War and Peace.
Besides encouraging people to think about God during the war years, Lewis also offered his speculation about what the devil might think of all this. His Screwtape Letters, published in 1942, present letters of advice from a senior devil to a junior tempter, who is working for the destruction of a human soul. When the war breaks out, the novice devil, Wormwood, is enthusiastic about all the diabolical possibilities it presents. But Screwtape, his infernal mentor, tries to calm him down:
You say you are "delirious with joy" because the European humans have started another of their wars... For the first time in your career you have tasted that wine which is the reward of all our labours--the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul--and it has gone to your head. Did the patient respond to some of your terror-pictures of the future? Did you work in some self-pitying pictures of a happy past--some fine thrills in the pit of his stomach were there? You played your violin prettily, did you? Well, that's all very well, Wormwood, but remember duty comes before pleasure... Let us think therefore how to use, rather than how to enjoy this European war (Screwtape 29, 31).
After warning that wartime conditions may build up human souls as well as destroy them, Screwtape urges Wormwood to push his "patient" (as he calls the human) to one extreme or the other:
Consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them fast asleep. Other ages such as the present one are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them (Screwtape 40).
Screwtape goes on to apply this advice to Wormwood's assigned "patient":
Whichever side he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of the partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him into the stage at which religion becomes merely part of the "cause" and his [faith] is valued chiefly for the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of Pacifism. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades mean more to him than prayer and and sacraments andÂ charity, he is ours--and the more "religious" on those terms the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here (Screwtape 42-43).
Wormwood tries to act on this advice, priding himself especially on how much hatred against the Germans he has engendered in the heart of his British "patient." But again, his hellish supervisor pours cold water on his enthusiasm (if one can do such a thing from where Screwtape resides), advising his junior devil not to concentrate the patient's malice on some distant target like the Nazis, but to stir up as much resentment and misunderstanding as possible with the people he actually comes into contact with every day--his family, colleagues, and neighbors.
In the end Screwtape and his operative Wormwood fail, for the patient remains a believer and is killed in an air raid while in a state of grace. So it is Wormwood who ends up facing all the torments he was hoping to inflict on his "patient."Some thoughts on War using story. The only way I can relate to war. But hearing and seeing other's war stories, helps me create a story of my own.