Monday, November 8, 2010

Loss of Faith

I lost my faith in humanity when I visited one of Pol Pot's prison facilities. At one time Tuol Sleng was a school. Boys and girls, clad in uniforms, had learned their letters in these classrooms. Gossip and chatter had echoed down the stairwells. Laughter and games had filled the courtyards.

Then Pol Pot converted it to a mortuary. Driven by suspicion and a heartless ideology, he imprisoned his former officers and their families. Inmates erected their own shabby cells from brick and mortar. They boarded windows to eliminate the light. They stained the floor with their own blood.

One of my college professors advocated for capitalism because it understood the depravity of man. Men are greedy and need carrots. Men are lazy and need sticks. When men are given a context to seek their own good, they will find it. Knock, and it will be opened. Capitalism, though, also works because the creative image of God in man.

Pol Pot could not comprehend the failures of communism. (He was not thinking of himself.) Equality and purity are attractive national goals. In fact, to suspect man can achieve these ends is to demonstrate a deep sense of faith in humanity. Oddly enough, the communist manifesto comes with a deep record of brutality--genocide, ghettos, and AK47s. Perhaps greed is good.

One man trying to capitalize on this tragic site greeted our tuk-tuk at the entrance. His face was melted, presumably a survivor of the Khmer Rouge, and he petitioned us for change. We bought our entry and strictly observed the "No Laughing" Rule. Melted faces and mocking tourists further crushed my faith in humanity.

But the final blast to my faith came when viewing the portraits of Pol Pot's victims. Meticulously photographed, thousands of faces took their turn in the subject's chair. Among the nameless masses was the face of a little girl, younger than my youngest daughter. She pursed her lips and arched her eyebrows in a curious expression. She looked innocent, slightly amused, immune to the slaughter awaiting her.At the end of the second building, Liz discovered a stairway hosting a lively debate. Pol Pot was slandered, defamed, and condemned. His guilt is unquestioned. But there was another line of questions; they related to God. Does He exist? Is He good? If so, why is barbed wire covering this building?

Those are fair questions, but not for today. I've already lost enough faith--faith in man. I want to hold my faith in God another day.
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This is Cambodia Update 3 of 5

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