Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Already

My, how quickly the time passes! One week ago I was so anxious to start this vacation. I had my to do list prepped and was gunning to go. Flash forward a week, and I am astonished that the days have come and gone so quickly. Isn't that the way vacation always happens?

While I feel like I haven't accomplished nearly enough, despite having done quite a bit. Regardless, the to do list continues to grow. There is much to do, and I am anxious to see some more forward progress!

This afternoon, I dropped by to pick up two things Mike sent to Surry. One is a DVD of an Australian film (which I think I saw on You Tube earlier) called Americas Forgotten Allies. It's about the Montagnard people, so I am excited to see this film and study another's approach to the same subject.

Meanwhile, I continue reading Dr. Hickey's books. Shattered World is one he wrote about the 'adaptation and survival among Vietnam's highland peoples during the Vietnam War' and has eloquently and succinctly described much of what I have heard from others. He describes the world of the Montagnards:

It is a world centered on small communities where kinship is primary and resources are shared by all. The people respect the integrity of their natural surroundings, and each society has leaders who serve as stewards in preserving it. Villagers farm slopes and bottomland within the never-ending cycle of rainy seasons followed by dry seasons, of fields planted or fallowing...

The highland people could have endured without "civilized" outsiders, but that was not to be. In the late nineteenth century the mountain country came under the colonial rule of the French, and in 1955 it became part of the Republic of Vientam (South Vietnam). During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Vietnamese (from both the North and South) and the Americans inflicted devastating modern warfare that engulfed the region. The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 brought Communist rule, the harshest yet imposed upon the highland people.
The more and more I talk with people about the film (both its subject matter and the process), the more anxious I grow to finish it. We are focused on making it an excellent piece that focuses on three key points about the government's poor treatment of allies. For a country to be so young and have so much power, we certainly are not a shining example of how things should be done.

War is an ugly animal. Thankfully I have never seen it first hand. But I weep over the things that have taken place in the name of freedom. I have many strong opinions, which I am working hard to keep out of this project. I want to present these opinions and let others draw their own conclusions. I don't want the presentation to be heavy handed and full of my own opinions. But I find it is difficult to keep them to myself. Earlier this week I found these opinions spilling out to my grandmother and father, both of whom have lived through wars. My grandmother saw seven people in our family go off to World War II, and thankfully saw each of them come home again. My father saw college friends go off to the Vietnam War, but sadly never saw some of them again. Lives of people cut terribly short.

War is an ugly animal. It is fought by people. And we must seek to understand it so that we do not repeat tragedies again. We, as individuals, must rise up to demand that our leaders represent us well. We must seek to understand the dynamics of politics so that we can help shape them. We must not be lazy or disinterested. We must, as a people, unite to make this world a better place.

Mike (one of our interviewees) usually includes a quote in his emails, which I think is incredibly important. It is one of my favorites and takes on new meaning for me this year. A year in which we elect a new president, in which we hire a new CEO of our country. And a year in which we say, "Yes, we believe in the promises you made on the campaign trail. Now you have the honor of leading us. Get to work."

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke