As preparation for the service learning trip to Cambodia, we watched the movie “The Killing Fields” together. In the movie, Dith Pran was a Cambodia journalist who worked with an American reporter. When Cambodia was taken over by the Communist Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodia) in 1975, Pran was arrested and forced to work in brutal labor camps. He witnessed the forced and complete evacuation of Phnom Penh, the indoctrination of the populace, the extermination of intellectuals, and numerous other killings.
During one of his escapes, he stumbled upon the infamous killing fields, where an estimated 2 million Cambodians were killed by the Pol Pot regime.
Our students were very attentive throughout the movie. But when Pran suddenly found himself among the piles and piles of dead and broken bodies, I noticed a deepened dead silence. Some sat up erect, others looked askew.
Some said the targeting of intellectuals was particularly damaging to the country, making it so hard to recover, even though the fighting had essentially stopped 20 years ago. We are hoping the movie would help our students understand better the situation in Cambodia -before we go there.
Many people feel optimistic that the human race will progress as we become more knowledgeable. Cambodia reminds us of the evil that we continue to inflict on each other. That the regression of specific countries and the human race altogether is by no means just history. We are compelled to do what we can to help each other. But what we can do is very little indeed. Only God Himself is capable of real saving grace.