Significant Universal Ideas About Being Human


First they Killed


my Father


Page 1


Human beings will do what is necessary to survive. In the book, Loung and her family become so hungry they turn to eating almost anything to provide sustenance. The children roam the fields looking for bugs or animals that have died of natural causes, just to ensure one more day in there miserable village. The same instinct holds true in all humans, what is necessary to live, no matter how vile, will be done. Just like a homeless person panhandles on the street for money. These people don’t want money, they want survival. They probably don’t like it but it is what is required to sustain life.


Everyone must rely on their family sometimes. Loung is a strong little girl but she wouldn’t have made it without her family providing everything she needed. It seemed always to be one of the children or maybe the father but it was never Loung who brought home food for the family. Kim would steal corn and work in the chiefs house for the family. She was younger and was one of the more dependent family members. While today it may not be for survival but most have relied on there family many times, especially when they are young. Daily chores that a child can’t do themselves. From rides to school to food on the table to shelter over their head everyone needs someone to lean on when they are young.


People can lose there identity though hardship. When a person is put though such suffering, changes occur in the person physically and mentally. Physically the malnutrition changes the body. All fat is burned up but their stomach becomes bloated and large. Mentally a person is totally unrecognizable. Unbelievable terrors can cause a loss of touch with reality and hallucinations. The person is thinking in a whole new way now. How do I find food? How do I survive? These are questions most will never have to ask.


People need to believe everything will be all right. They need it so badly they lie to themselves and say “things will work out, it will all be fine” even when they know almost for certain this is not true. The night the Angkar came to take their father, everyone knew in there hearts that he was not coming back home, even the young children. And what did they do but all just tell themselves and each other that it will all be fine, everything is O.K. This I think is a defense mechanism that does no good to anyone. However when reality is horror I’m not sure a person has a real choice.


People do not appreciate what they have until it is gone. Back in Phnom Penh the family live with all the amenities of modern life and think nothing of it. The kids are even a little spoiled. They ride cyclos to the market and eat noodle soup for breakfast. Loung and her family are middle to upper-class and she even gets an allowance. I think anyone in prison recognizes this idea as valid. Anyone that has had their freedom taken from them has a much greater appreciation for it. Most have never thought to themselves, “Gee, I am glad I can go wherever I want today”. People have to be hurt before they believe in pain.


When humans get desperate they cannot be governed by laws and rules. A person will do absolutely anything it takes to get by, even if it means braking a few rules in the process. In this story Kim is the brave little thief. He steals corn more then once, but he does nothing immoral. After all the corn is a product of their own hard work, he was just taking back a little of what was theirs. People in our society turn to crime to support themselves all the time. Stealing in our society is a whole different story morally. Here there is really no reason you cant just find a job and support your self. In Cambodia, in the 1970’s stealing could mean life or death for a whole family.


A family never fully appreciates a member of the family