Speaking from the heart.

by James Murtaugh, Nov 18, 2002 | Destinations: Vietnam / Ho Chi Minh City

During my first trip back to Vietnam I was talking to a Vietnamese man. He told me he was speaking from the heart. Later,I thought of the meaning of "speaking from the heart". The more I thought of his words, the more I felt the feeling behind them. On my second trip I thanked my travel agent for all her hard work and how much my first trip meant to me. She is Viet Kieu. She hugged me and told me that my words made her very happy. Then she told me that she spoke from the heart, do you understand? I gave her a big warm smile and said "Yes, I do! I have been reading books by Le Ly Hayslip (When heaven and earth changed places and Child of war, woman of peace). This is also a Vietnamese woman who "speaks from the heart"). It is the story of her life in war and peace. It is also the story of a father who was a very wise teacher. He failed to teach his daughter hate. He told her these words "Lay thu lam ban, an oan xoa ngay--Turn your enemies into friends and your hate will yield to joy". Forgive yourself. forget the sins of others and get on with your life. She gave these words to an American war veteran. To American and Vietnamese who fought for the south, I would like to say this. I feel the hate and bitterness that you feel. Even now, after all these years. Many of you will go to your graves with these feelings. I have seen the same horror of war. I am well aware of the re-education camps, hunger, boat people and death after the war. But I say this to you; Things in Vietnam have changed! It is the policy of the government that the war is history and that Vietnam wants to be friends with the rest of the world and move ahead. More important is that the Vietnamese people feel the same. I have twice traveled the whole country and could not find the hate of the past. I invite all of you to put your hate aside, travel to Vietnam, as I have, and just look around and talk to people. It is not perfect. There are problems but the Vietnamese are moving ahead. I had forgotten just how smart and tough Vietnamese people are. I think you will not be sorry you went. It has been a long time! Jim M.