While tuning in to my recent jam, today I’d like to talk about a book I’ve recently finished— “First They Killed My Father” by Loung Ung. I got this book months ago while I was at Cambodia for the International Understanding Trip with Interact and this book brought me so much more insight than I had expected. Telling the true story of her life since she was little, struggling through the very horrific Pol Pot Regime under the Khmer Rouge that completely transformed her childhood into a nightmare, I read every page with increasing respect towards her bravery. It takes an incredible amount of courage to be telling a story like hers. The descriptions and expressions so well illustrated the images of her memories in my mind as well– last night, I had a terrifying dream that I was experiencing the transitional phase between constitutional government and Pol Pot’s arrival in Singapore, and the images resembled those described by her in the book. It may sound like a funny dream to have, but during which it felt so real, it was terrifying. And it’s even scarier now, as I think about how that massive fear I thought I felt, was only a small fraction of what the author really experienced.
The same way I enjoyed reading every page of her book, I enjoy my study of history. In my study of history I am constantly reminded that history is a story of people just like myself who lived through a very different time and did very different things. There is a sense of empathy and connection that I feel towards these stories and words I read off historical records and notes. These are real life recollections. In some ways, it reminds me to make my time count. Someone once said that history is about great people and the things that they did, but like some others, I’d argue that all the ‘small’ people were equally important in that story that is told as a part of history today. And imagining myself living through times like Loung Ung’s for example, also reminds me to respect the people who’ve played their part in the legacy of the human race, and the values or beliefs they have stood by in the difficult times of their lives.
I wonder, in years down the road as our time period gets included in ‘history’: what part of history would our generation represent.