THE DUALITY OF THE VIETNAMESE MIND
NGHIA M. VO
         During Vietnam's legendary times some four millennia ago, King Lac Long Quan was reported to have wed Tien (fairy) Au Co with whom he had one hundred children. They lived happily for sometime until one day he told her:

         "I am from the race of Dragons while you belong to the line of the Fairies. There are a lot of differences between us and I do not believe we can go on living like this any longer."

         Lac Long Quan took half of the children to the lowlands where they multiplied and became the Vietnamese. Au Co on the other hand moved with the remaining half to the highlands: they became the Moi or highlanders. "This was a marriage made in Heaven, but torn apart in the land of the mortals". This was the first reported divorce in the country's history and probably the first ever reported marital split in world's history. Ever since that time, division and duality had always been the lot of their Vietnamese descendants. They had always been divided on main issues and ideas: they were either for or against the Chinese, the French, the Americans, monarchy, and communism of course. They had always fought against themselves "out of a desire for power or freedom from the central authority." Only on a dozen occasions had they fought against the Chinese, Chams or Khmers. "Driving out foreign invaders was not the main chord of the Vietnam's national song; infighting was the primary chord". The Vietnamese could be among one of the most fractious people on earth.

         The Vietnamese, therefore, had a long and complex history. The original Lac Viet tribes lived and coexisted freely in the present-day North Vietnam until 111B.C. when they were conquered by the Chinese. We knew that they wore their hair tied in buns behind their head, chewed betel, stained their teeth black, and were involved in fishing and agriculture.The society was matriarchal in nature and many tribes were led by women. Although the Chinese had thoroughly sinized the Lac Viet-they became Confucian and patriarchal-the call for freedom was always dear to the Lac Viet's hearts. Since they "felt" they were not Chinese, they gradually found ways to free themselves from their masters. They regained their freedom a millennia later in 939 A.D. and had remained free since, except for 14 years of Chinese (1413-1427) and 93 years of French (1861-1954) domination.

        Please read the rest of the story in THE SORROWS OF WAR AND PEACE.
Back