Cambodia Blog 5
Today is Thanksgiving, a day which can be easily ignored in Cambodia. My one nod to the event was to wish an ironic ‘happy thanksgiving’ to my European friends, who are bemusedly confused by the idea of having a holiday to celebrate peaceful union with a race of people we later murdered. However, devoid of the usual trappings of large dead feathered beasts and cranberry sauce, this day feels a lot more meaningful than usual.
Today is also marked by a day of mourning for the 350 killed in Cambodia’s worse disaster sense the war 20 years ago. A tragedy I could have easily been in the middle of, had my friends and I been feeling just a bit less lazy that night. I am still not sure what caused it, but after a stampede on a bridge countless have been trampled, drowned, or electrocuted. For the first time in my life I have had to write my parents to assure them I am alive. The day after was a strange blend of shock, sorrow and beauty as I relished each delicious breath and looked at the people around me and wondered who they had lost. Today the flags hung low and monks across the city prayed for the souls of the dead. And I am grateful for each minute I am granted on this beautiful earth.
I suppose I believe in souls. And I also believe there is nothing I can ever do to deserve such luck as I have had. Today at lunch two children younger than my sister materialized from the street and watched us hungrily. I never give money to children because it usually ends up in the hands of some thug making them beg, but I gave them what was left of my lunch. They delightedly poured it into a dirty plastic bag, and scampered off, before returning for any other scraps we had leftover. I look into their eyes and I know how easily that could be me. By some insane, unfair stroke of luck I was born here. In the richest country in the world, to a family that loves me beyond all reason, and has made sure I have never seen hunger or fear. I could have been born to the struggling, the broken, the destitute, and lived begging scraps like a stray dog, like these children. The world is incredibly unjust, and for some reason I have benefited from this. All I can do I fight for greater justice in our broken world, and be grateful every day I am granted the strength to do so.