Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 02 June 2009
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 01:58

The 'Duch' Trials

Ponchaud comments on the ongoing Kaing Kek Iev ‘Duch’ trials and has a rather critical point of view: He affirms the abomination of the Khmer Rouge crimes, but has described the trial as ‘hypocrite’ and ‘unfair’. According to Ponchaud, all the countries that are now judging the Khmer Rouge have supported them until 1989 for geostrategic reasons, and it is only now that the Khmer Rouge leaders are old and powerless that the international community decides to take a stance against the Khmer Rouge crimes. Furthermore, Ponchaud questions the relevance of merely trying leaders such as Kaing Kek Iev when the U.S have had an equally guilty part in the civil war. “From the 6 February 1973 to the midnight of 15 August 1973, the U.S army have dropped 239 000 tonnes of bombs on the little Cambodia who had not done anything”, says Ponchaud.

Francois Ponchaud is French priest from the MEP (Paris Foreign Missions Society) who has spent the last forty years in Cambodia and the refugee camps on its border with Thailand. As author of Cambodia: Year Zero, he was amongst the only foreigners to have witnessed the Khmer Rough regime, and was the first to have exposed the genocide to the world.


I Dwell in Possibility
A Fairer House than Prose
--Emily Dickinson

Using one’s imagination is always risky. First, it amounts to depart from the common lot, to come up with ideas and ways of expressing oneself that might meet with hostility or bewilderment. Second… using one’s imagination might just lead you to make mistakes, to come up with hypothesis that do not pass the test of time or experience. Do not we say to someone “this is the fruit of your imagination” for decrying what he tells us, implying that he is living in a world of delusion? Our imagination can be aroused by the daemons of jealousy, pride, fear or hatred… and lead us to tragic mistakes. So, let us recognize it from the start: imagination indeed can be a force of evil and destruction.

But the main point is that, indeed, imagination is a force. It cannot be separated from our physical condition (fever awakens in us the power of imagination…), our desires and our memories. However, when these factors are monitored, imagination can fly in the sky like a bird of prey, and open up new horizons. The problem is not imagination per se, it is what we feed our imaginative power with. Our imagination becomes what we give it to eat and drink, so to speak…

To let our imagination run free means that we are able to abstract ourselves from present conditions, to create a distance between oneself and the world as it is introduced and conditioned for our use. At some point, we doubt what is asserted around us… and from this doubt arise new hypotheses. This doubt might no be provoked by our “reason”, but “reason” will be stimulated by what comes from outside. Without imagination and dream, no way to invent non-Euclidian geometry…

Imagination is begotten by dreams – and dreams are begotten by sleep… Only the one who sleeps and liberates his mind and soul during the sleep will be able to imagine a different world. Imagination is in conflict with utilitarianism. Imagination is anchored into gratuitousness. You need moments when you dream about nothing in particular for imagining something so new that it seems to be directly emerging from Nothingness. Conversely, organizations that are fully “rational”, letting no place to chance or fantasy, progressively destroy the imaginative power of the people who work in them. You need imperfection, free space, free time and some degree of fuzziness for giving imagination its chance, so as it might change the world you dwell in. A world too perfect or too rational becomes entropic, and perishes from its own virtues.

Five keys for developing the positive power of imagination
Taking into account what precedes, I’d like to suggest five basic attitudes through which we can nurture our imaginative power and make it a force for changing our environment:

-First, our imagination is powerfully nourished by the contemplation of the human person in her riches and complexity. Persons focus our dreams and desires; entering into relationship with concrete people awakens our eloquence, our passions and senses, and consequently our imagination. As a matter of fact, the first person with whom we deal is “I”, and the relationship I nurture with myself is key for the way I use my imagination. So, let us start by contemplating ourselves, to assess and enjoy our own gifts - and our gratitude for everything we have received will already enhance the positive power of our imagination.

-Imagination is nurtured by a sense of time, there are natural tempos of maturation in nature, in art, in personal growth, or in management. Being too hasty will kill our imaginative power. On the contrary, being stubborn in one’s dream and project while respecting the rhythm of maturation proper to the project and its environment will make our imagination more vivid and powerful.

-Imagination is nurtured by freedom. My own inner freedom makes me able to challenge what I have been taught. The freedom I give to the Other will make her able to challenge our common assumptions and to come up with creative solutions to the problems we are encountering.

-Imagination is nurtured by our spirit of service. When I prove to be sensitive to the needs, disarrays and desires of the people I am living or working with, I develop a new sensitivity to my environment, and I naturally ask myself questions on what is to be done for answering these needs, opening up spaces of growth and creativity. The very fact of not putting myself “at the center” liberates my vision and makes me able to imagine solution that would be unconceivable for someone who puts his self-interest first. It is from the margins that the scene appears most clearly…

-Imagination is nurtured by communication and friendship. When communication is inspired by a desire for truth in respect, i.e. by a common search for the common good, the exchange of words, opinions and emotions naturally awakes ideas and ways of proceedings that could not be imagined as long as exchange was not taking place. Imagination, likes fire, needs wood, and communication is akin to the process of cutting wood and putting it into the flame when one fears it might become extinct.

“Poetry is what is lost in translation”- or so wrote Robert Frost. And if the reverse was true? It seems to me that imagination arises in a kind of “translation process.” When I make the effort to explain to myself with my own words and through my own feelings what had been taught to me, then I discover the limits of the ancient statements I was nourished with, or I discover new truths within them. The fact of “translating” old truths into a new language opens up a window through which new landscapes are discovered. Translation is also what happens when we mutually elucidate for each other what we have understood and how we feel. The exchange that takes place is the space into which “common imagination” arises, so as to become a drive for change. “Translation” of shapes, sounds, feelings and images is also what happens throughout the artistic process. “Imagination is what is gained in translation” – and, so, it is in our power to generate endless supplies of it. Contrarily to oil or to coal, imagination is an inexhaustible energy.

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