• A Piece of Myself

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    A respected
    friend of mine once asked me, if everyone is a good human being,
    what's the matter with our world? And I ask myself if everyone loves
    peace and liberty, what is the matter? Why war and tyrants? I don't

    But I did know
    that being a peace and liberty loving person is not easy, as it
    has not always been for a long time. Many of my friends ridicule
    me for metaphoric and literary exaggeration as I wrote that I have
    been terrified and trembling by people's attitude to war and liberty
    today. No, it's real. I lived through war and two oppressive regimes,
    the military dictatorship and the communist totalitarian dictatorship.
    I did not know liberty, democracy and peace before. And now I see
    people are destroying peace and liberty by their silence. They are
    our common treasure. I fear I will have them no more.

    I heard people
    saying peace loving people are cowards, and a liberty loving person
    is a rebel who professes chaos. I myself learned that loving peace
    is defying fear, and that war is generated by fear and creates more
    fear; loving liberty is defying coercion, and that oppressive power
    is based on fear and coercion, and generates more of them. I love
    peace and liberty; so I have been accused of many things with many

    Before 1975,
    while a young student, I came down on the street joining many others
    against corruption, and demanded the withdrawal of the US army.
    We were young and naïve in many aspects of politics, but the
    goal was right and just. Later, after the Communists took over the
    whole nation, I was blamed and ridiculed by many friends and acquaintances
    that I and others were cowards, and betrayers who brought the Communists
    in. I was hated.

    Few admitted
    that the War itself was a result of ignorance of liberty and peace
    of all the peoples involved. We, the Vietnamese, the Americans,
    the Australians, the Koreans, let the political governments play
    with and manipulate our lives. Although the victory of the Communists
    was through a set game of super political powers, it was above all
    the result of our peoples' (north and south) stupidity and ignorance
    of politics as a whole. We let the political government of super
    powers use our lives and dictate our future. The Vietnam War was
    a big mess, and a catastrophe for all the people involved; we all
    are the losers. And the worst losers were the Vietnamese people.
    The victors were political governments. Very few understand and
    admit this. Like today, the ascendancy of the war party is a result
    of ignorance of the people, who are now infected with fear and hatred.

    In 1983 I left
    Vietnam and became a refugee after the unsuccessful attempts of
    many underground anti-communist groups to change things. I then
    joined with other expatriates in the freedom and democracy movement
    right after I landed in Galang camp in Indonesia. There I saw not
    only the hatred, but also the authoritarian habits of the ex-south
    Vietnam officers manifested in full manner on other refugees. Ironically,
    oppressive and undemocratic manners were practiced by the very ones
    who just escaped from the brutality of the communist regime, and
    claimed themselves freedom and democracy fighters. I protested.
    I argued with them. And I was hated. I was accused of being a communist
    agent. I learned something more about loving peace and liberty.

    As soon as
    I landed in Australia, I continued my dream of fighting for democracy
    and freedom; I joined the Front, which was then chaired by former
    South Army rear admiral Hoang Co Minh, who later was killed while
    leading a group of others crossing the borders into Vietnam. I saw
    the corruption of spirit of democracy and freedom within the organization,
    and the wrong, hopeless direction of the armed struggle. I left
    the Organization and started a new movement, which advocates non-violent
    struggle for peace and liberty by improving not only awareness and
    knowledge of liberty and democracy, but also spreading information
    about the truth of the War.

    For I have
    been convinced that there will be no peace and liberty or democracy
    if the people have no idea or understanding about peace and liberty.
    There will be no change in the society if people don't recognize
    their strength, which is the confidence in themselves for action.

    With all governments'
    propaganda and with the fear government has instilled in their minds,
    they cannot stand up for themselves. If they don't understand these
    values, they don't love, treasure and prepare to stand up, demand
    and fight for them, even if political documents and democratic institutions
    existed. Worse, they will be vulnerable to be further manipulated
    politically. So they will take whatever the government gives, and
    give whatever the government takes from them.

    I decided that
    the only thing to do is to improve my people's economic condition
    and, most important of all, their knowledge and understanding of
    liberty and democracy at the same time. Thus, in 1997 I formally
    applied for repatriation and urged other people to go back to visit
    Vietnam to open up the limited contact of Vietnamese people inside
    Vietnam with the outside world. I started a campaign to expose everything
    that has been hidden from the people, and to demystify the propaganda
    and fabrications of both sides, and those of the US Government.

    Yet, this has
    made me even more hated, or rather feared by all sides, the anti-communists
    and the communists. They fear the truth. Outside Vietnam, the message
    to me is be anti-communist and to support American Government, or
    be their enemy. Inside Vietnam, be submissive to the communist regime,
    or be the state enemy. Thus, the regime arrested me and detained
    me for five days, and then expelled me. In Australia, in America,
    and in Europe, where the "Vietnamese freedom fighters"
    live, there are fabricated stories to demonize me with rumors and
    gossip. The message to me now is "you are either with us or
    against us." (Sounds like Bush!) They wanted me to fear them
    to make a choice.

    I chose to
    be myself, and call a spade a spade. I am against any form of dictatorship
    no matter how well disguised. Because I practice peace and liberty,
    I have no fear.

    without governments' propaganda and distortions, most of us love
    peace and liberty, except those who benefit from war and those who
    adore power. As long as fear exists in our minds, we will put up
    with war and coercion out of fear and hatred. Peace and Liberty
    will be only realized when we have no fear other than the fear of
    not having them.

    I now have
    found that having no fear is so easy and so content. Just practice
    peace and liberty.

    by Robert Klassen.

    10, 2005

    him mail
    ] fled Vietnam with the boat people in 1983 and has
    lived in Australia since then. He returned to Vietnam in 1997, but
    was expelled for anti-government activities. See his

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