Once, when I went to Korea, a Korean legislator told me: “Talking about economic development, you are behind us no less than 30 years to us. But talking about unification, we don’t know how long we will be behind you.” South Koreans and North Koreans probably still take a long time to wait for reunification. Or maybe never. But the Vietnamese did it. Yet the same people that have done that great thing bu, today are facing a serious degradation of everything: the embezzlement of leaders, the moral degradation of society, and the cruelty between people.
The most obvious thing I feel is that our bad things and crimes happen so easily as the Vietnamese did. People look at these things as natural and is inevitable. That morning, when I read about a young man cutting the neck of an 8-month-old baby and the villagers who rushed in and beat a dog thief to death, etc. There are those of us who commit evil and bad things to survive today. The fact that a bandit was sentenced to death for slicing off a person’s arm and had previously cut 14 people, but his mother did not have the slightest hint of remorse. It was the scariest image: a mother who cherishes her child but pays no intention to the life of others.
Maybe Vietnamese people today seem to be encountering a certain mistake in the organization of life, making love, compassion, and selflessness greatly deformed. That is too strange for this society. Perhaps there was never a period in the past where Vietnamese people had to go through the situation like today. The Vietnamese people had lived under the bondage of thousands of years in the Chinese occupation, were once dominated by imperialists and colonists, and had endured all kinds of cruelty and exploitation from foreign countries. But I have never heard of Vietnamese people being cruel to their own people. Never before have Vietnamese people treated each other so cruelly, so barbaric. We are not as poor as the old days, not as hungry as the old days, why are we crueler than the old days?
What has happened in our country today, perhaps needs to be thought carefully. For example, why do so many people have money and still be so corrupt? Maybe that’s not culture. People often say “poverty creates thieves,” but looking at their society, it is true that thieves have a part of their poverty going up, but a large part of thieves is born by people who are not impoverished. Those bureaucrats who commit the series of crimes that we have seen over the years, are they poor?
What other words can we use other than the word “barbaric” when a person can cut the neck of an 8-month-old baby when a young man in his school-age can kill an entire family to rob of, or a bright-faced young man who could kill his girlfriend’s family for revenge.
But cruelty doesn’t just exist there. I see cruelty in cases of embezzlement, corruption, and robbery of poor people from powerful people. I see the cruelty in the unjust cases that the legal representatives, with their cold, unintentional, irresponsible attitude, rushed to draw the most absurd investigation conclusions without concern to the fact that they can push an innocent human into the path of death.
I wonder if the leaders of the country will ever go to the streets to watch the farmers’ protest. But I kept looking at the old women in the towels sitting on the side of the road in the protesters, the more I don’t believe what they were doing badly or trying to win things that were not mine for me. If their nature were then there would be no way they went revolutionary during the resistance. They would not have dedicated their homes, their properties, their children to the revolution. Yet what have we done to make them like that? Why are things that gave us such extraordinary strength in the past now that we are breaking it?
When commenting on the Party Congress, I once said it is very painful that we ourselves have not created a democratic mechanism for our own Party. And when we cannot do that, it is difficult to create democracy for the whole society. And this loss of democracy will greatly distort the Party. This distortion will cause distortions in other problems: economic problems, construction issues, education, people … That distortion will be extremely dangerous!
The Vietnamese people’s willingness to bind and beat a dog thief to death is not true of this nation’s nature. The fact that 5 police officers beat a crime suspect to death is not true to what I know about this nation. I don’t believe a person who can cut the neck of an 8-month-old child can die for his people. Those who have no sympathy for others and who do not know how to grieve the suffering of others have no love for the country.
Perhaps, the things that we fought for the old days, we are betraying it, going against it, away from it.
In the past when we fought to protect the people, to free the people from injustice and exploitation, now injustice is returning in the division of interests between those in power and ordinary people, between the rich and the poor.
When people love us, they will love us to the end. But by the time they turn their backs, that turn may be more terrible than we can imagine. I hope we will awaken soon to preserve the good nature of this nation!”
The author is Ph.D. Le Kien Thanh, a son of former General Secretary Le Duan (1907-1986) of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam
L.K.T. (Recorded by To Lan Huong)