A Piece of Myself
A respected friend of mine once asked me, if everyone is a good human being, what’s the matter with our world? And I ask myself if everyone loves peace and liberty, what is the matter? Why war and tyrants? I don’t know.
But I did know that being a peace and liberty loving person is not easy, as it has not always been for a long time. Many of my friends ridicule me for metaphoric and literary exaggeration as I wrote that I have been terrified and trembling by people’s attitude to war and liberty today. No, it’s real. I lived through war and two oppressive regimes, the military dictatorship and the communist totalitarian dictatorship. I did not know liberty, democracy and peace before. And now I see people are destroying peace and liberty by their silence. They are our common treasure. I fear I will have them no more.
I heard people saying peace loving people are cowards, and a liberty loving person is a rebel who professes chaos. I myself learned that loving peace is defying fear, and that war is generated by fear and creates more fear; loving liberty is defying coercion, and that oppressive power is based on fear and coercion, and generates more of them. I love peace and liberty; so I have been accused of many things with many labels.
Before 1975, while a young student, I came down on the street joining many others against corruption, and demanded the withdrawal of the US army. We were young and naïve in many aspects of politics, but the goal was right and just. Later, after the Communists took over the whole nation, I was blamed and ridiculed by many friends and acquaintances that I and others were cowards, and betrayers who brought the Communists in. I was hated.
Few admitted that the War itself was a result of ignorance of liberty and peace of all the peoples involved. We, the Vietnamese, the Americans, the Australians, the Koreans, let the political governments play with and manipulate our lives. Although the victory of the Communists was through a set game of super political powers, it was above all the result of our peoples’ (north and south) stupidity and ignorance of politics as a whole. We let the political government of super powers use our lives and dictate our future. The Vietnam War was a big mess, and a catastrophe for all the people involved; we all are the losers. And the worst losers were the Vietnamese people. The victors were political governments. Very few understand and admit this. Like today, the ascendancy of the war party is a result of ignorance of the people, who are now infected with fear and hatred.
In 1983 I left Vietnam and became a refugee after the unsuccessful attempts of many underground anti-communist groups to change things. I then joined with other expatriates in the freedom and democracy movement right after I landed in Galang camp in Indonesia. There I saw not only the hatred, but also the authoritarian habits of the ex-south Vietnam officers manifested in full manner on other refugees. Ironically, oppressive and undemocratic manners were practiced by the very ones who just escaped from the brutality of the communist regime, and claimed themselves freedom and democracy fighters. I protested. I argued with them. And I was hated. I was accused of being a communist agent. I learned something more about loving peace and liberty.
As soon as I landed in Australia, I continued my dream of fighting for democracy and freedom; I joined the Front, which was then chaired by former South Army rear admiral Hoang Co Minh, who later was killed while leading a group of others crossing the borders into Vietnam. I saw the corruption of spirit of democracy and freedom within the organization, and the wrong, hopeless direction of the armed struggle. I left the Organization and started a new movement, which advocates non-violent struggle for peace and liberty by improving not only awareness and knowledge of liberty and democracy, but also spreading information about the truth of the War.
For I have been convinced that there will be no peace and liberty or democracy if the people have no idea or understanding about peace and liberty. There will be no change in the society if people don’t recognize their strength, which is the confidence in themselves for action.
With all governments’ propaganda and with the fear government has instilled in their minds, they cannot stand up for themselves. If they don’t understand these values, they don’t love, treasure and prepare to stand up, demand and fight for them, even if political documents and democratic institutions existed. Worse, they will be vulnerable to be further manipulated politically. So they will take whatever the government gives, and give whatever the government takes from them.
I decided that the only thing to do is to improve my people’s economic condition and, most important of all, their knowledge and understanding of liberty and democracy at the same time. Thus, in 1997 I formally applied for repatriation and urged other people to go back to visit Vietnam to open up the limited contact of Vietnamese people inside Vietnam with the outside world. I started a campaign to expose everything that has been hidden from the people, and to demystify the propaganda and fabrications of both sides, and those of the US Government.
Yet, this has made me even more hated, or rather feared by all sides, the anti-communists and the communists. They fear the truth. Outside Vietnam, the message to me is be anti-communist and to support American Government, or be their enemy. Inside Vietnam, be submissive to the communist regime, or be the state enemy. Thus, the regime arrested me and detained me for five days, and then expelled me. In Australia, in America, and in Europe, where the “Vietnamese freedom fighters” live, there are fabricated stories to demonize me with rumors and gossip. The message to me now is “you are either with us or against us.” (Sounds like Bush!) They wanted me to fear them to make a choice.
I chose to be myself, and call a spade a spade. I am against any form of dictatorship no matter how well disguised. Because I practice peace and liberty, I have no fear.
Fundamentally, without governments’ propaganda and distortions, most of us love peace and liberty, except those who benefit from war and those who adore power. As long as fear exists in our minds, we will put up with war and coercion out of fear and hatred. Peace and Liberty will be only realized when we have no fear other than the fear of not having them.
I now have found that having no fear is so easy and so content. Just practice peace and liberty.
Edited by Robert Klassen.
December 10, 2005
NguyenKhaPhamThanhChuong [send him mail] fled Vietnam with the boat people in 1983 and has lived in Australia since then. He returned to Vietnam in 1997, but was expelled for anti-government activities. See his website.
Copyright © 2005 NguyenKhaPhamThanhChuong