My dear Kacvey,

You may certainly have lately noticed the verbal and attitudinal violence that the ruling party has repeatedly used to strengthen its unpopular and corrupted power against anybody, politician or otherwise, that stands against its interests or those of its political clan: verbal arrogance and servile and degrading political rhetoric, saber-rattling about war after elections, illegal arrest of parliamentarians or demonstrators…

Against this background, as of 26 October 2015, 2 parliamentarians of the opposition party were cruelly and savagely lynched at the gate of the national assembly in plain daylight and under the eyes of the security video-camera by a mob that openly committed this violent act in front of other people, bystanders, demonstrators, mobsters and even security agents.

Kacvey, what has happened to the Khmer internal and external attitude that “touv wat”, “saud thor” and “tveu bon, tveu tian” in the belief and observance of Buddhist philosophy and creed?  How many times have you seen those same people in Buddhist temples sitting on the floor facing the monks, praying or reciting the prayers in front of the sacred statue of Buddha? Do they understand what they are While so doing inside the pagoda, why behaving differently outside the pagoda? Are they truthful to themselves or are they just mere blood-and-guts or hammer-and-tongs guys masquerading themselves in suits?

It is known that human beings have a weak spot in their constituency for being violent: from the pre-historic time, men kill animals to eat their meat; men kill to build empire and monuments; men kill to dominate; men make instruments to kill; world history is the history of how men kill other men to reign or to rule.

But along the way to the present time, there is also another thing called civilization that men and women developed through the ages to better themselves and to make the difference between men and animals bigger and wider.

Is it not enough that more than a million of Khmer were killed by another group of Khmer called Khmers Rouges? Is it not enough that those who, once, were parts of the killer Khmers Rouges rule, corrupt and oppress for more than 30 years? Have they crossed the river of civilization that separated men from animals? To paraphrase Billy Graham, is it not enough that Toul Slèng “stands as a tragic reminder of the terrible potential man has for violence and inhumanity?”

If thugs can rule the streets with violence, it is a sign that society is plunging into anarchy. If thugs become the country law and justice, if thuggery is sponsored and condoned by those who rule autocratically, peace, social justice, democracy and development will inevitably and bloodily suffer or even die. Does resorting to thuggery imply that the domination shows sign of weakness, fear and self-doubt? If they use thuggery as a tool to solve political problems that they cannot solve through peaceful and civilized means, they have then succeeded to transform, with certainty, the country into a future cemetery to bury peace, social justice, democracy and development… starting with the long-held tradition of Water Festival in the Tonlé Buon Mouk.

Kacvey, you may wonder why, all of a sudden, this spur of violence in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk? Hannah Arendt had the answer when she said: “Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.”

So how would Cambodians go about then, you may also ask.

There is no perfect answer, but one that is fundamental is that Cambodians must be conscientious – both when praying in the pagoda as well as in conducting their daily life – that:

  • Violence kills what it intends to create;
  • Peace is only possible when it is the fruit of justice;
  • Social justice cannot be attained by violence;
  • True peace is a profound transformation by means of the force of nonviolence that is the power of: mutual understanding, dialogue in time of disagreement and patience against time and adversity;
  • “Violence, even well-intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself,” so said Laozi.