Today I write from DaNang, Vietnam with great appreciation for the Vietnamese people whom I have met here and in Ho Chi Minh City. I have found an unexpected level of forgiveness related to the past and an intense level of focus on the future.
In conversation after conversation, we Americans have sought to discuss the war in Vietnam and its lingering effect on the Vietnamese people. With only one minor exception we have found no interest in discussions of the past. “The war is over, history,” people have said to us repeatedly. “But, when the subject of Agent Orange comes up, don’t you stir the emotions of resentment and anger in people?” “No” is the consistent answer. People here want to both in this country and in our country help given to people suffering from the horrendous affects of Agent Orange. But the sentiment is that of compassion, not resentment and retaliation.
Learning forgiveness was not one of the goals of this trip. Indeed, forgiveness was never even mentioned in relation to this trip. But a deeper understanding and a profound appreciation for forgiveness are derivatives of extensive conversations with many people in this land.
Believe me, they are looking to the future. Building is taking place. Progress is apparent. The median age here is 18. No one talks about the war anymore. Everyone is focused on the future. What a joyful, gratitude-inducing discovery.