As I sit here, facing this peaceful, quiet lake that stopped thousands of good people from escaping torture and death, I feel deep sorrow. I’m visiting Cambodia’s Killing Fields of Choeung Ek 14 km southwest of the capital city, Phnom Penh.
On 17 April 1975, a Cambodian revolutionary movement called Khmer Rouge, led by Cambodian extremist Pol Pot, took over the city with the idea to implement the most brutal and radical restructurings of a society. Within days, the city was cleared of all intellectuals (and many more!).
Over the next four years, my visit reveals that about three million Cambodians were executed at one of the 300 killing fields around the country. That’s three million out of a population of eight… It’s absolutely impossible to comprehend how a group of people could do this, let alone against its own people, its own blood. It’s happened other times in history, but the Cambodian story is one that I believe is still less known. This welcoming, patriotic, kind society has seen its share of pain.
To me, visiting this is a lesson in gratitude (among many other things). Gratitude for having been born and living in peaceful countries. Gratitude for having my whole family. Gratitude for life.
I’d like to share with you, if I may, a gratitude challenge. Once a day, over the next month, write down or tell someone one thing you are grateful for. Anything at all. I hope you’re up for it… It’s time we give back to the universe the ‘thank yous’ it deserves!
As for me, today, I am most grateful for my visit to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.