Hello everyone! I would like for you all to know that I really appreciate your emails and words of encouragement! Even if I have not responded, I really cherish them! I love knowing what is going on in your life and what you are thinking, so don’t hesitiate to write! I don’t want you to think I am too busy!
Honestly I had no intention of writing another email this soon… what you are about to read really just hit me in the face tonight and I felt compelled to share.
Lately I have been thinking about “normal” in Cambodia vs. “normal” in the U.S. This is my third year in Cambodia, and my second summer, so much of what I see has lost the “newness.” When I first get off the plane in Cambodia I think my brain flips a switch, and the things that would have shocked me two years ago I see as just…life.
In my brain this is a list separated into two columns:.
In Cambodia it is completely normal to see someone with raw meat hanging out all day in the heat, with a baby pool full of fish for you to buy. If a vendor was selling non-refridgerated meat in the U.S. I feel fairly certain the Dept. of Health would intevene.
The traffic in the U.S. runs at pretty high speeds. If you drove down the road in Cambodia going even over 40mph you would be in an accident within 3 minutes.
In Cambodia it is perfectly acceptable to pull out in front of on-going traffic and weave your way to the other side of the road. If you did this in the U.S. you would be in an accident within 3 minutes.
If someone in the U.S. walked around with a white surgical-type mask on their face all the time they would look pretty strange. In Cambodia this is completely normal. Honestly, after a day of driving around in tuk tuks (think moped with a carriage attached) and breathing in large amounts of vehicle exhaust, I think I may invest in one myself.
Kids in the U.S. wear diapers. Kids in Cambodia…go free.
Indiana has daddy long leg spiders, Cambodia has geckos.
In Cambodia you barter for a cheaper price. In the U.S. you collect coupons.
I see scantily-clad girls in bars in Cambodia and immediately think “oppression,” when I see this in the U.S. I [used to] think “bad choices.” But Sarah made a good point today that really got me thinking… how do I know that those girls in the U.S are not forced? There are documentd cases of trafficking in 90 cities in the U.S. How do I know who is who? How do I know that any person in any place in the world is or is not oppressed in some way? He or she could be opressed by a person, like a boyfriend/family member/friend/pimp, or they could be oppressed by drugs, or alcohol, or money. You never know.
I could go on like this forever, but I want to share with you the thing that sparked this whole thought process: Tonight Sarah and I hung out with Theara and the team she is leading from CIY. Across from their hotel is a dance club. It is huge, and is covered in neon lights that read “Waltz!” “Tango!” “Twist!” as well as “Spa” “Massage.” Immediately my stomach dropped. Theara confirmed my suspicions: this is not a good place. GIrls are not safe in there.
When I drive to my parent’s house from my apartment I pass an Arthur Murray dance studio. Never once has my stomach turned at the sight of the sign that says “Dance! Grow closer together! Make new friends!” I have never questioned the safety of those inside.
The thing is, I love dancing. I think it is beautiful and joyful. I love to see kids dance when they hear a catchy song. I love to watch a daughter dance with her father on her wedding day. I love watching someone so involved with the art of ballet that their face is full of passion and elation as they move. I love traditional Khmer dancing; it is so delicate and uniquely Cambodian. I love that, in 2 Samuel 6, David “danced before the LORD with all his might.”
It is moments like this that I weep for joy lost. Something so beautiful, something created to be so intimate and worshipful, has been twisted until it it unrecognizeably evil. I hate this. I don’t want you to take this word “hate” lightly… this is not like I am saying “Oh I hate that color of green, it looks like puke” this is “Intense dislike, EXTREME aversion, HOSTILITY.”
Is this what happens to someone’s heart when they allow themselves to become calloused by selfishness and greed and power and pride? When they become immersed in evil? Their heart may still be called a heart– but is that really what it is? A dancing studio can be called a dancing studio, but what is it really, on the inside? Sometimes I am so frustrated with humanity. There are SO many things of beauty in this life, but every beautiful thing can be twisted to something evil. This is not how God intended us to live. Dancing should be beautiful and safe, people should not be bought and sold, and no person should be ok with buying another human being.
I realize I asked a lot of questions. I am not looking for answers, and I don’t really expect to find them. Like I said in the beginning, I did not intend to type a whole email to you all tonight, I think I just needed to process.
I love you all,