thinking out loud a little…

This isn’t really quite ready for hitting the old publish button, but I will do so anyway. If anyone out there wants to participate in a conversation, just pop on in.

I think a lot. It’s the way God wired my old brain. I’m starting an eye-opening book on human trafficking, in the southeast Asian sex trade written by a survivor of the ordeal and who now goes back to save other young girls in her Cambodian homeland.

So many things struck me, in my brief entry into the tale, but one thing did in particular: what factors contribute to culture, such that one culture might be largely peaceable and another warring? One where women and children might be considered as possessions and even merchandise for sale as much as a piece of livestock, and another where they are respected and cherished as fellow beloved human beings?

The book is written by Somaly Mam, and is titled, The Road of Lost Innocence. In it, she observes that the culture of her family of origin was a dark skinned old tribe of mountain people, the Phnong. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances after her parents left her behind with a grandmother, she eventuallly ended up in the lowlands of Cambodia surrounded by the paler skinned Khmer who thought the Phnong were savages. The observation she makes is that the Khmer are a violent people. Yes, they beat her, and yes they hated other tribes and saved their worst for them, but heartbreakingly notably they were violent to THEIR OWN too as a sort of cultural norm. Children were routinely beaten for inconsequential things. Sexual violence, both to one’s own wife and of course with prostitutes, was rampant.

I’m not ready to ponder the specifics of this culture as I would only betray my vast ignorance, but it reminded me of a longheld wonder within me that goes something like this: are people intrinsically good, intrinsically neutral, or intrinsically “bad” (if not “evil”) before outside socialization forms them otherwise? Just what is the true nature of, humanity, I’ve often wondered. And of course there are always exceptions – there are child beaters in societies that condemn such a practice and there were scattered kind people the author encountered in a society where violence was commonplace, and yet, a keen observer would note that there are clear differences. What makes those differences? If we can agree that there is something intrinsically wrong about selling one’s own children to slavery of prostitution or sweat shops to pay off a gambling debt of the father, and a culture that turns a blind eye of unconcern to it, what can be done about it? What were the differences that developed such vastly different outlooks on how to treat and interact with people?

Hmm. Just thinking out loud for now…

Here’s a link to Somaly Mam’s website:


2 Responses to thinking out loud a little…

  1. […] Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam, which I mentioned recently that I’ve begun reading in this post […]

  2. […] Wow, huh?  I mean, I don’t like to be judgemental, but wow?  How does a society get this way, is what I wondered aloud here. […]

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