Since I have been in Cambodia…

…there have been any number of small and huge global tragedies. But as a US citizen the headlines of Sandy Hook and now Boston find their way to the top of my internet searches.
The headlines, the pictures, the shocking irrational cruelty of Boston cannot be denied. In the midst of such an iconic and commanding American celebration the streets explode as if struck by some random unexplainable asteroid suddenly shattering the most personal and the most public.
Many inspiring words have already been written to get us through and past this tragedy.
But to me it seems one of the most difficult things with violence is the shame in knowing that one of us was capable of such an act.
Not one of us like an American citizen, not one of us like an unstable kid from down the street – but one of us – another human being.
Today Boston is the heartbreaking event that has reached us and moved us. We so much want to reach out to those who have been personally impacted; we so much want to reach out to a nation who has had one of its great traditions fragmented and damaged. And we want to be consoled and inspired by a City with huge courage and pride and so it should be
But the day by day violence perpetrated by humans upon humans goes much deeper and more frequent than any single headline. Parent to child, husband to wife, brother to brother, neighbor to neighbor, religion to religion – it’s a long list.
I live in a country (Cambodia) that had its heart ripped out by the Khmer Rouge. People are still impacted by the tragic and mindless cruelty of a country that turned in on itself. A country that lost generations, destroyed families and cannibalized the best of its own for what seems to be an incomprehensible political agenda.
And yet every day because of my colleagues and students at CCF I see the resilience of the heart – individuals reaching out to help this one, protect that one, rescue a lost one, comfort a tiny one, care for an old one.
Every day I hold the hands of children who would be forgotten if someone had not taken a moment. Every day I am dazzled by a teenager who is making a difference because someone took a moment to get them into school. I see the faces of women once beaten and now free from domestic violence because someone took a stand for them, young girls headed for garment factories or worse now thriving in classrooms surrounded by friends and laughter.
As Scott Neeson says and I have witnessed “it only takes a moment.”
For all of us, each day presents us with something to do, some small action to take, someone or something calls for our energy and attention — Calls for our humanity to be greater, stronger and more important than anything else in that moment.


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