All the relics of my childhood were left in South Viet-Nam. I left with my family as political refuges. Twenty years old at that time, I was glad to leave my homeland behind for a new life, most probably in a much wealthier and attractive country of the West. At the time, it was the chance for a new beginning that dazzled the twenty-year-old girl. For seven years since the fall of Saigon into the iron fists of the Vietnamese Communists, she had pretended to live, but only physically. She, like many other Vietnamese, had learned to reverse their lives to the animal stage, subsisted without tomorrow, and survived only on hope.
The other day, my son asked me why I didn’t like my life under communism. I started to answer him by describing the poorest living conditions: the rationed food, the supplement of stone infested rice with heavier grains reserved only for cattle, the continual harassment by the local police force, the forceful adaptation to uniformity, etc. But as I spoke, the darkest picture of that time looms large: the memory of my intellectual state. I was not enrolled in the school after 10th Grade, so that our constant attempts to escape the country would not be monitored by my absence from school. I did not think I miss much from school either, since the state controlled the instruction tightly. The textbooks were only state-approved books. During those years, we fabricated a sort of “home school”, with my father acted as the teacher. We purchased our textbooks at the illegal swap market. The books we learned were outdated, but kept us in touch with the free thinkers of the world.
This I believe: the horror of a bad regime or government system come not from its worst persecution of the people, but of their minds. I believe that our life is worth living only if our will is free. I believe in the free press, in the open channels of the internet, in the availability of books of all subjects and languages.
I believe that as long as I can publish my thought on a natinal broadcaster, we, as a country, can resolve any problems, and the war would yield to peace.
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