The Phường 28 island (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). Island number 30 (out of 100), country number 26 (out of 25), month number 32 (out of 100.)
A few kilometers from island Phường 28 in Ho Chi Minh City is the War Remnants Museum dedicated to what we in the West call “The Vietnam War”. (The museum was previously known as “the Museum of American War Crimes”.)
I went to the island Phường 28 to reflect on the impact that visiting the museum had on me, because the visit there was profound.
The many pictures and facts about the atrocities of the war shakes you to the core. What human beings can do to other human beings is truly depressing. But it was the meeting with the blind young man playing piano in the gift shop of the museum which affected me the most. A man born without eyes due to Agent Orange and other chemicals dropped by the Americans.
A victim of war when he was just a fetus in his mothers womb.
Listening play his piano so beautifully became such stark contrast to the museum.
He did not speak English but I talked to another young women did, a women also born disabled due to effects from the war.
I asked her if she was angry at the Americans for how the chemicals that they had dropped had affected her.
She smiled and said: “No”.
The actions that humans who hate can do is horrific.
But tact of forgiveness that humans are capable of is inspiring.
I – like all of us – have met many, many people in my life. But I can honestly say that I have seldom been more moved by a random meeting with another human being as when I met this young, blind man behind his piano.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
May we never lose sight of the fact that we all belong to one humanity and may we all begin to see that we are all one instead of thinking in terms of “them” and “us”.
Fredrik Haren, aka “The Island Man”, plans to visit 100 islands, in at least 25 countries, on at least 6 continents – in less than 100 months. The purpose of this “World Tour of Islands” is to get a better understanding of the world, a deeper understanding of the people who live here and a broader understanding of life. The Phường 28 island was island number 30, country number 26 and month number 32.
(Countries visited so far: Austria, Canada, China, Egypt, France , Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mauritius, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam, United Kingdom, USA, Italy and Malta.)
(Island visited in September 2018, text published August 2019.)