Post-Cambodia Reflection – Capabilities & Choice
Another lesson that I learnt (although I am not done thinking about this issue) is human’s capabilities to love & care.
Over the course of 12 days, I had met, gotten to know and interacted with many beautiful souls. The Amor people themselves and especially the teachers and volunteers at Mlop Tapang.
For the Amorians, I saw how everyone genuinely cared for one another. When someone falls sick, the person is pampered, everyone asks about their well-being and we all wanted to know how the person is doing, getting better or not.
During dinner, the amiable atmosphere, the easy chatter and the laughter ringing out always always warms my heart.
The sharing of things like the iron, the washing detergent, jackets, nail clipper, etc etc. Amor was seriously made up of extremely generous people masyaAllah. They shared everything that could be shared haha. I really love that about Amor. :)
Also, their initiative and willingness to volunteer to do certain duties. It could be really little things but as always, its the small things that matter right. Stuff like offering to wash all the plates for the room, offering to sweep the floor, offering to carry someone’s bag etc. It was really small things but maybe I’m just too observant for my own good haha. But I really saw how everyone just liked doing things for others. And it was precisely this generosity and genuine love that I see that really makes Amor so close to my heart.
As for the teachers and volunteers at Mlop Tapang, what more can I say right? Their passion, their dedication, their unconditional love for the kids and apparent concern for the kids’ future and education are intangible things that I cannot put into words. You had to get to know them to really know how much they care. To see them carrying this kid and comforting another. To see them playing with this kid and teaching another. They were all walking examples of what selflessness is. Something that is hard to find in Singapore where people generally care for their own lot. Over at Mlop Tapang, people wanted the best for everyone else.
Honestly speaking, I am a person who does not trust easily. This was something that my sleeping partner in Cambodia (she slept on the same bed as me hehe) said about me too. She said it was the first impression she got from me. Very interesting, but I shall leave the whole introspection on myself for another time. As I was saying, I do not trust easily. But because of 12 days of being on the receiving end of non-stop love and care, I was starting to break my walls and feeling very lovey-dovey. Haha. I was going around with rose-tinted glasses about how the world is beautiful, everyone is beautiful and I love everyone and all that jazz.
And then on the last 2 days, we left Mlop Tapang for Phnom Penh. One of the activities planned for R&R was a visit to, of all places, Tuol Seng Genocide Museum.
Upon reaching the site, my heart was already in a weird state. There was just bad vibes about the place and I knew I didn’t want to stay there very long.
True enough, within minutes, I couldn’t stop myself from tearing. I had to constantly dab my eyes with my sleeve (so unglam I know) until my sleeping partner gave me tissue.
The museum was the actual site where prisoners were captured and tortured and killed. Imagine that! I saw the tools used, the metal remains of the bed, the shovel that they used to hack someone’s head off etc. In another room, it was full of mugshots of the prisoners. Their eyes stared back at me and I couldn’t help but cry. They were so innocent. One particular picture that made me cry really bad was a picture of a mother and her toddler. I mean, come on. What could she have done? What could the toddler have done to deserve such a death?
Another room was filled with skulls. Some skulls were placed in individual casings where they explained what injuries was sustained and detailed the course of the bullet; where the gunshot had hit, left temple, exiting the right cheek, stuff like that.
And I just could not take it. For 12 days I was going la-di-da, skipping along and feeling so full of love. And then suddenly I was here and I see the evidence of the cruelty of man. How Pol Pot could ever justify his actions are beyond me. It was not one person, or one family, it was thousands. He tortured thousands! And I had to take some time to sit by myself and just calm down. My heart was in a mess.
I knew there was a reason why Allah had made me feel such a way. From the previous feeling of love to feeling completely incredulous. And then I realized it was for this simple reason: Yes, humans are capable of great degrees and depths of love. I’ve experienced it myself. The selflessness, the sacrifice, the compassion of people around me, I had tasted it, I had been lucky enough to receive that from people.
But on the other end of the spectrum, humans are also capable of great pain and selfishness. Pol Pot was not the only example. Many before him had tortured and killed and on a much greater scale. World history will agree with me and there’s no need for me to list their names.
But the bottomline is this: We all have a choice. We can be the most loving and selfless people on Earth, serving others and wanting the best for everyone. We just have to beware of our innate capability of causing harm to others. Its there, dormant, just waiting to be activated. All we need to do is just choose which faculties of ourselves we want to use.
And as always, we have the most beautiful of examples, our gentle, loving, selfless Prophet Muhammad SAW. And I cannot stress this enough: In any decision we have to make, no matter how big or small, just ask ourselves, WWRD? What Would Rasulullah SAW Do?
Before we can get the answer to that, we need to know him. May Allah allow us to understand the beauty of this man and to feel the love for him that his Companions felt for him, to miss him the way Sayyidina Bilal RA missed him to the extent that he had to leave Madinah after the Prophet’s SAW passing, to yearn for him the way Imam Busairi yearned for him such that he composed the beautiful Qasidah Burdah, to understand the depth of the love that his camel had for him so much so that it died in grief after his passing. MasyaAllah. How dare we say we love him and miss him and still disappoint him all the time by practising other than his teachings and practices.
May Allah forgive us all and guide us on the Straight Path always. Amin.