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Beloit College

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Viet Nam: National Development and Globalization

Abstract

Over 30 years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War, yet the memory still lingers for some. Mention of the war in correlation to contemporary politics today in the United States seems to demonstrate that Americans have not effectively put the past behind them. Similarly, the prevalence of Vietnam War-related media, such as films, music, and literature, implies that the war is still remembered strongly in American society. Why, then, do the Vietnamese appear to have put the war behind them? Most Vietnamese seem to avoid discussing the war or its consequences, and appear to revel in these first few decades of peace after endless years of conflict. One would expect that the destruction and lasting legacy of devastation caused by the war would leave wounds fresh and on the surface of daily life in Vietnam. However, it appears that this may not be the case in contemporary Vietnamese society. Of course the average Vietnamese person believes that Vietnam won the war against the United States, which holds deep significance in the degree that each country has come to terms with the conflict. Yet there are also other factors that seem to play a role in why Vietnam no longer appears hostile with the United States. With massive economic reforms opening new doors for the average Vietnamese, and contemporary relations with China tense, it appears that forgiveness of the Americans for the war and its repercussions is surprisingly easy for the Vietnamese. In addition, Buddhism and Confucianism seem to influence the Vietnamese ability to seemingly move on from the war and harbor little resentment toward the United States. Lastly, the Vietnamese media’s depiction of Americans may also contribute to this phenomenon, encouraging a more positive relationship between the two countries after many years of conflict. Indeed, perhaps there is something the United States can learn from Vietnam about the value of forgiveness and not dwelling on mistakes and periods of hardship.

Disciplines

Peace and Conflict Studies | Psychology

 

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