Reflection on Radical Change
The woman in the picture above is a grandmother in the northern hill tribe region of Vietnam. Debby and I stayed overnight in her house one evening during our treks in that region. Now if you were a young person growing up in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, as I was, the thought of spending a peaceful evening with a villager in Vietnam may not have ever entered your consciousness. Today some 30 years hence, the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam has undergone a radical change. The question I have to ask myself as I reflect on my experience with this beautiful grandmother is this. What would I have done different in my life back then had I known that I would be eating stir fry and drinking tea with this wonderful woman some 30 years after? Perhaps I could have had tea with her much earlier. Over 3 million Vietnamese lost their lives in their conflict with Americans. Everyone you meet in Vietnam has been affected directly by the war. Our guide’s father was handicapped for life after 10 years of fighting, but we managed to become close friends with the guide. If we know that peace is coming even with once bitter enemies, how can that change our relationships with others right now? Can we accelerate radical change? Whoever is your enemy right now will one day be your friend. Think about it. I have a lot of work to do to change my enemies to friends. I guess I need to see them as I see the grandmother drinking tea with me. I have much work to do because keeping enemies seems so tantalizing and for sure it is much easier.