Subscribing to an ideology is essential. An ideology that shows purpose, substance, and gives rise to ideas is a good ideology. And the one that doesn’t urge any new ideas and takes the once practiced old order as final, is nothing more than extremism. Humanity throughout its history has seen many cycles of extremism; political, religious, or racial, and has always suffered disasters that affected generations.

One such example of a political ideology taking extreme and disastrous dimensions was witnessed in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. In a totalitarian system of political ideology almost 25% of the country’s population was exterminated in political killings. In a period just short of 4 years nearly 2 million Cambodians lost their lives in the killing fields.

The tales of horror and torture at the Toul Sleng detention centre in Phnom Penh are well recorded. One survivor Bou Meng also sits at a counter to narrate his story.

This used to be a school building that was turned into a prison / torture centre. If we remove those signs and tools of torture from there, the class rooms would look appear inviting and appealing to those wanting to learn peace and progress.

Some kilometres away is the killing fields where people were brutally killed. From children aged less than two years to the older men and women all perished in the ground that used to be an orchard cam cemetery. They say 17000 remains of the dead were dug out of the mass graves here. Even now sometime after the rains or inundation of the area it is not uncommon to find bones coming to surface.

A tree bears testimony to smashing of toddlers and infants against it. The regime, they say, believed that only cutting the tree was not enough, the roots ought to have been destroyed. That’s why the skulls of children were smashed against the tree.

A memorial stands there called the Choeung Ek memorial, which houses skulls, bones, clothes, and weapons of murder. The audio gadgets that narrates the story point wise reveals a chilling fact that apart from using the metallic and wooden tools of torture and murder, the palm tree leaf was also used to slit the throats. When you touch the serrated leaf that looks like a crocodile’s jaws the story appears believable.

There is no reason to believe that history will not or never repeat itself or the cycle of going to the extremes will ever stop, but one can only hope humanity finds a better way of conducting itself.