“Pol Pot was cremated here” the sign announced. The remains of one of the most famous mass murderers of recent history are located high up in the hills on the Thai border in Cambodia’s remote north. I stood looking at a roughly build shelter about a metre in height made from old wood and rusty galvanised iron. There is no doubt he died nearby, because he was under house arrest enforced by his own cadres. His body was quickly cremated and his demise announced to the world. Pol Pot’s agrarian revolution of the 70’s was a disaster which left millions dead through either direct killings or the dreadful neglect of starvation and sickness.
As we arrived a woman was tending the incense and offerings left daily by the local people weighed down by the bad karma of having such a shrine in their community. I wasn’t sure what to expect. What does one feel visiting the grave of a mass murderer? There was no overwhelming sense of evil. No compelling sense of justice in his death. Rather the understanding that he was just a man who lived a life and then died.
I thought about the decisions he made during his life and the devastating results of his actions. We are constantly making decisions in our lives. What are the values and attitudes that shape those decisions? I found myself thinking of what we Christians have to guide us. I couldn’t go past these words Paul wrote…But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!