That pattern of thinking has led us to our way of social interactions and formation of various segments in the community. Back to my hometown Sadec, since 1975, the socialist local authorities have had a tremendous power over the lives of the locals. Yet the authorities also know that there is another force they have to reckon with: The native belief in the power of the Village Deity and of the elders. As we Vietnamese would say, “Phép vua thua lệ làng,” or "facing the village's customs, the king's rules must leave in a lurch." Then there is a powerful religious group, the pro-government Buddhist Association, which comprises about one-half of Buddhist Temples that have gained supports and recognition from the local authorities. Explicitly, these groups don't fight each other for territorial controls. Implicitly, they try to exert power over each other and the locals. The village people get used to dealing with these implicit power struggles. Even when it's unbearable, we Vietnamese know how to "cố đấm ăn xôi," or "take the punches to earn the sweet rice reward."
In Sadec we say, "Đi với bụt mặc áo cà sa, đi với ma mặc áo giấy." Literally, it means "going with a monk, wear a saffron robe, going with a ghost, wear a paper outfit." Or as we say in America, "Pay a man back in the same coin." No one knew that I selected my cousin because she was a mother of three who would unlikely skip town with the gold while I was exploring my options.
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The Caper PART 3--Retrieving Two Bags of Gold from...: copyright © Kim Roberts