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Forgiveness is something we are taught to do. But sometimes it breaks down.Last year, during my saison d'enfer, I worked in a supermarket with a man named Tran. He was the Assistant Manager in Produce. He spent his day arranging fruits and vegetables.He also did 3-dimensional engineering and architectural drawings that reminded me of Leonardo and Piranesi.I think my S.O. learned things from Tran that he didn't like to talk about. She can get people to talk and doesn't know how she does it. It seems he was in Cambodia when it metamorphosed into Kampuchea. He saw his parents murdered before his eyes. He was force-marched to an "agrarian reform" site, a slave labor camp, where for one year he saved his life by pretending to be illiterate. You see, Tran has a degree (or degrees) in engineering from a major university in South Asia.Today he has found life in the aesthetic possibilities of sorting growing things. His mind is strictly gone, but it's not quite anchored to the earth. Would yours be?The lovely and destroyed man I knew owes his state of mind to the predations of Pol Pot and his horrific vision of a death-empire. Eliot Weinberger, in his essay "Kampuchea," tells it better than I could hope. Kampuchea was the place that aspired to Die All, Die Merrily...or Just Die. Pound for pound, based on numbers alone, Pol Pot was a more efficient killer than either Hitler or Stalin. He is why I mentioned forgiveness. I do not believe it is possible to forgive such a man. I am not even sure it is desirable. A Hell should exist simply so men like Pol can burn there.Our brothers' blood cries to us from the ground. Dith Pran heard the cry and responded to it. It is a cry that Tran cannot even utter.
Ah. We had a discussion about forgiveness in my fiction class(!) last night.It may not always be possible for mere humans to forgive. RIP, Dith Pran.
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