To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; To put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; To put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; And to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. Confucius (551 - 479 B.C.)

 

NATIONALISM-PATRIOTISM-RACISM-FANATICISM
By:
Ronnie Yimsut

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FUNAN AND CHENLA-INDIANIZATION

 

odern Cambodia is a "Land-in-Between," if one looks at the map of today. Shaped by geological, political, and cultural processes over the many millenniums, Cambodia struggles to maintain self-identity and survival as a nation.

Cambodia today sits in a middle of a rich-flat alluvial plain, surrounded on three sides by Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west, Laos to the north, and the Gulf of Siam (Thailand) to the south.

Present day Cambodia appears to be physically and psychologically trapped in the middle of mountain ranges, including the Dong Rek, Cardamom, and often time the hostile and antagonistic neighbors, specifically larger and more powerful nations, such as Vietnam and Thailand. It wasn't always this way in the glorious of Cambodia's past.

Geologically (and also physically) speaking, present day Cambodia actually sits in the middle of a once deep, large gulf. Many millenniums of erosion has deposit vast amount of rich alluvial silt that created the flat land of today Cambodia. This natural process is still on going, even as of now. The natural wonder of Tonle Sap Lake (the Great Lake) and the Mighty Mekong River are the last remnants of this continuing geologic erosion process. Perhaps in another million years from now both the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River may become a forgotten memory, when the ever-shifting geologic process ran its natural course.

Politically (and also culturally and historically) speaking, Cambodia is much more difficult or even controversial to fathom. Cambodia is a very old, mysterious, and complex society for mortal man to comprehend. Yet, we should try to understand it as best as we could, based on what we know today, while leave the rest to imagination.

In order for us to take a little peek at Cambodia's future, we must at least try to understand her past history and present situation first. The past, present, and future of Cambodia, I believe, are very much intertwined. Their relationship is interlocked and connected with one another, where the sense of "nationalism, patriotism, racism, and also fanaticism" are the primary causes and effects that fully described the glory of Cambodia's past as well as her subsequent down-fall. As the result, the chaos that followed continues to haunt present day Cambodia.

History, no matter how we look at it, has never been a sure thing. Unless one is actually right there and experienced it first hand, there is always a blind spot or two to overcome. Thus, those who study it, including scholars and historians, can only open history with interpretation and interpellation. They can only decipher the information and data available and make the best educated guess. History, in short, has always been a guessing game simply because no one knows for sure what had occurred in the past. Please keep this statement in mind when you study Khmer history, including my own version of interpretation of Cambodia history to follow.

No one knows for certain how Cambodia, specifically the Khmer people, society, and culture, got started. Modern Archaeology suggested that these people, who later proudly called themselves "Khmer," may have begun to build their strong society and rich culture around 4200 B.C. or perhaps even earlier. From this small, early flicker of light became a bright and raging inferno before it was subsequently extinguished.

This small band of original people, perhaps with the infusion of new bloods from other part of the region (some scholars and historians specifically dare to speculate and suggest Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese' blood), eventually built one of the greatest Empires in Asia that rival the best of Europe and America. Many strongly believe that the Khmer great success in the past has always been credited to their superb ingenuity and their great adaptability to other people's culture and know how. This important adaptation skill has led the Khmer to both great successes and also dismal failures, as I shall cover later on.

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About the Author: Ronnie Yimsut, Author/Activist/Social Entrepreneur

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