MARCH 2013 TRIP REVIEW.
Viet Nam . . . the country of Spiritual Abundance
We traveled to Viet Nam offering humanitarian gifts of love and discovered that our old wounds healed as we gave. And a surprise for the travelers was at hand, especially when learning that the Vietnamese had absolved their past to live freely in the present moment. A culture that measures the value of all human life deeped our awareness of what could be and we realized that the trip was not to reconcile with the War, but with ourselves.
The most recent trip (March 2013) witnessed much of this ancient culture, even though the advent of modern conveniences has changed the way daily lives are lived, especially in the big cities like Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Hue and Hanoi. There are two things almost everyone has, just like in the U.S., a cell phone and a vehicle, albeit a motorbike instead of a car. And they seemingly have moved on after the devastation of war, continuing to live within the humanistic discipline that was taught so many years ago.
We mingled together and together with the Vietnamese to learn and understand historical meanings shared from the past. Now the story restarts with a different twist and the still third-world country graciously accepted our humanitarian efforts; gifts to sustain life, food and supplies, and funds for student scholarships and corrective surgeries for the victims of Agent Orange. Nothing could change what happened during the war, but the Vietnamese say, “Forget about that one . . . now we are friends.”
The final reward was meeting with our former enemy, some who had fought on some of the same battlefields with the American veterans on the trip. How would it go between the former rivals? The U.S. participants were anxious, until looking into the eyes of the Vietnamese. Language barriers prevented casual conversation, although interpreters found ways to connect the group and smiles and laughter exhaled out of the common ground. War is a human atrocity that everyone present agreed upon, but the Vietnamese added, “We are all the same now.” In their resiliency and hospitality, the Vietnamese have much to teach Americans.
Closing ceremonies for the trip concluded at the Seasons restaurant, one of the finest cuisines in Hanoi. It had been quite a trip and not just for the veterans. CORE is about community reconciliation and although veterans and civilians were not usually compatible after the war, we are all the same now. These are the lessons learned from the Vietnamese that make so much sense, but often so hard to engage. It’s unusual behavior, or is it?
Application for the next trip. (early May, 2014)
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