Friday, September 28, 2007

Red Dawn again in Burma, freedom silenced.

Story: "Burma’s generals silenced the Buddhist monks yesterday morning.

For a week and a half, the monks had been on the streets of Rangoon in their tens of thousands, and their angry calm gave courage to the people around them.

But overnight, they were beaten, shot and arrested, and locked in their monasteries. Handfuls of them emerged yesterday – two or three brave individuals, a dozen at most – but nothing to approach the mass marches of the previous nine days. Everyone felt their absence.
In the Mwe Kya Kan pagoda in the South Okkala district of Rangoon, it began at 2am, but seven hours later the evidence was plain to see – a dozen thick patches of congealing blood and human tissue splashed about the yard. The windows of the monks’ dormitories were smashed jaggedly by the impact of rubber bullets – hard, round spheres fired from green cartridges that the monks had carefully gathered up and put on display.

Inside everything had been smashed – the thin plywood walls, the monks’ plaster statues of the Buddha – and the thin mattresses were soaked with blood.

“We had to flee for our lives into the neighbourhood,” said a small bespectacled young man named Ashin Thu, one of the few monks to have evaded arrest. “A family let me hide in one of their houses, I was so scared.”"

I was watching this story with fascination, but this is my first post on it.
Here's the gist of the story: Thousands of Buddhist monks filed into the streets several days ago, silently protesting the lack of freedom in Burma. Seeing their religious leaders out, thousands more regular people followed them, in some cities, protests numbering 400,000 or more.

That was all before last night. Burma's military cracked down on them, ravaging Buddhist monasteries and killing civilians.

So there are two things that can happen here.
1. This outrages the populace enough to start a violent revolution, and 2-3 years from now, there will be another military dictatorship set up.
2. Now that one 'revolution' has been shut down, the government becomes more crushing then other.
I think 2 is more likely, and it is a sad day for this poor nation.


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

So are you in favour of sanctions against Burma?

SolaMeanie said...

I hope this makes sense in such a brief comment, but here goes.

This situation is heartbreaking. But it also makes me wonder about the wisdom of pushing "democracy" in countries that have no tradition of it, or experience in it. Here in America, we look back to the American Revolution in the 1700s and note that we fought for our freedom. Before that in England -- the mother country -- King John was forced to recognize the Magna Carta, and constitutional government (albeit unwritten) developed over years.

Growing up, I often wondered why oppressed peoples didn't rise up and overthrow their oppressors as we did in our Western traditions. But as I grew older, I began to see that other cultures have different mindsets about "freedom" and "democracy." Some are like sheep and culturally accept a "strong hand," while others are given to violence and anarchy if unchecked. They're good at revolutions but not so good at governing.

Here's the reality. Unarmed Buddhist monks are not going to overthrow an armed military dictatorship who cares little how many they butcher. The American colonists, on the other hand, were armed and had the means to protect themselves. They also had Christian values and a strong sense of biblical justice, seeing in Romans 13 the difference between a legitimate and illegitimate government.

I could have put this together more coherently, but am rushed today.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Solameanie, I am glad you can see that.

I believe one of the mistakes of American foreign policy was to insist on the speedy independence of British and other European colonies in Africa.

The populations of these countries had no past experience of democracy. Their electorates were easily manipulated into supporting violent and ambitious leaders, often the agents of international Communism.

One by one these countries fell to Communism, dictatorship and misrule.

Every Blessing in Christ


Anonymous said...

Another way to say what Sola Meanie may have been getting at (which I think is very true): A nation of people with weak character will need a strong leader(s), while a nation of people of strong character will be able to handle the blessings of liberty and freedom, properly balancing them with the responsibilities of governance. If the majority of people within a nation do not, or cannot take responsibility for their freedoms, they will generally be accomodated by tyrants, which are in abundant supply here on earth.

SolaMeanie said...

I think one of America's founding fathers and second president, John Adams, said it best. I don't have the original quote, but the gist was that America's form of government was designed for a moral, devout people and was wholly inadequate for any other. Unless people have a strong moral foundation, along with the moral capability of self-restraint, democracy doesn't work very well.

One can see this in societies where communism reigned supreme, or some other authoritarian mindset. Corruption and cheating are endemic, plus a host of other ills.

Palm boy said...

Matt, I would support sanctions against a totalitarian government.

And ya'll may be right about 'forcing' democracy onto a people who are not yet ready for freedom, but it worked pretty well in Afganistan.

Lillgw said...

The biggest issue with "forcing" democracy in third world countries is that it does nothing to change the hearts of the people. The 13 colonies bickered and fought for 6 years until they agrees on a government and the Revolutionary War was fought on the principle that "all men are created equal". Greed and jealousy played their part but in the end Americans were united. These third world countries all have internally opposing forces at work. Democracy relies on unity but they have hate in their hearts. They have two types of leaders: The savior of one people and a tyrant to the rest, or a tyrant to all. So how many swords is it going to take to change 5 billion hearts?

Anonymous said...

Solameanie, I couldn't agree with you more.

Palm Boy, I don't think the problem is "people who are not yet ready" but rather one of two things: Ignorance and (as Sola said) Mindset or Culture.

For ignorance, the people just don't know how govern. They don't have the training to make critical decisions. Instead they rely on emotions or what feels right at the moment. The "Republic" set up after the French Revelution would, I believe, be a good example.

For countries governed in tribalistic groups, such as many African and Islamic countries, their culrure is set. They bow to the bully with the biggest stick, until they or someone else finds a bigger one. And Lillgw is right, just because America happens to be the biggest-stick-carring-bully doesn't mean that if a bigger-stick-yet-carring-bully came a long or if America removed their Democratic influence, that these "reformed" countries wouldn't revert to primative tribalism. We haven't changed their hearts.

Spectacled Skeptic

SolaMeanie said...

Sort of makes the case for evangelism, doesn't it? The one thing that could help these countries, but if one evangelizes and gets caught, you get your head cut off. That's very illustrative to me. Yet, evangelize we must. The Gospel is the only thing that will ultimately change the heart.

Unfortunately, to today's liberal, evangelism is tantamount to genocide because you're "meddling in another culture." Ridiculous, of course.