Under-noticed today among the few conservative blogs I frequent is yesterday’s passing of Dith Pran, who was the world’s most influential survivor of Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime. Simply put, Dith (the family name, reversed by Cambodians) almost singly made his life’s focus to never allow this kind evil inflicted upon millions to happen again. I fear, as both and Dith did and his New York Times colleague Sydney Schanberg does, that such a recent atrocity will now be almost completely forgotten, especially one that occurred on the opposite side of the planet. The Times has an excellent video news segment about Dith up today.
Cambodia is still dealing with the ramifications of losing one-quarter of its population of 8 million to torture, starvation, and often “creative” execution. Craters from once-mass graves and vivid testimonies by the local over-40 population keep the memory alive, but our out-of-sight, out-of-mind American culture has lost what little reminder we had over here.
My visit last year heightened my awareness of what happened there, and I learned that there are a seemingly infinite number of stories of resilience like Dith’s. A fellow Christian from Malaysia that I met over there left a lasting impression on me when he said he now traveled with the purpose of meeting people, not seeing places. I left understanding exactly what he meant, after meeting countless Cambodians with a tragic story to tell and their personal testimonies of survival.