Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This image was taken by Malcolm Browne during the Vietnam War in Central Vietnam. During this time period the United States had helped put a Christian man in power as president. His wife was also Christian and they wanted to out law Buddhism and Buddhist rituals and replace them with Catholic ones. This monk burned himself in protest of the removal of Buddhism and replacement of Catholicism. The image evokes several emotions within me. When I first saw this image I thought this monk was crazy. To dump gasoline and light himself on fire this monk must be crazy. Even crazier to sit there quietly and let it happen. Looking at it now I realize what this monk was fighting for and what strength and faith he must have. For a person to choose death over life in a place he is not really free should not be a foreign concept for someone like me who grew up in the United States, supposedly the most free country in the world. However, that free country was oppressing and meddling in this country's fight for religious and social freedoms we take for granted everyday. This monk let himself burn alive slowly in the middle of a street while he sat quietly and perfectly still. While maybe this action was to show his will power and strength and maybe he did this to shock the world. To me it seems that he made himself an example. If we just sit there while our beliefs, lives, and world go down in flames, all we have in the end is death and ashes of what we once knew. This man gave his life up to show his dedication to his faith. By shocking the world with this image this man and the photographer who took it woke up the world and show what was really happening in Vietnam during the Vietnamese War. We might think he is crazy but we remember this image and it stays with you forever.

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