The Undoing of Our Passionate Hearts

23 February 2009

In Oxford dictionary, the word "passion" is defined as strong feeling, example of hate, love or anger.

Passion runs deep in our hearts regardless of the kind of situation we are in: a sports competitions, informal conversations among friends, formal discussions among intellects, etc.

As a young child growing up in Burma, I can vividly recall how we would feel rather strongly about which side we were on whenever we spilt into teams to play games. With high sense of comradeship and strong will to strive our best for our team, we played our games with a lot of passion; through the exchange of opinions on whether it was a fair play, arguments ensued between different teams. Luckily, we were only children whose hearts did not bear grudges for long. So we would make up with each other after a few days of having a cold war.

So, you see, our sense of passion was evident even from such tender ages. It can also be seen in our daily lives.

Whenever a group of people gather in a coffeeshop or at a house, they will discuss about certain topics - be it poetry, politic, education, or any kind of context to their interest - over many pots of Burmese tea (known as Yay-Nway-Chan) for what seems like hours. During their discussions, voices are sometimes raised; aliances are often formed; disagreements can lead to unpleasant consequences at times.

Now, in twenty-first century, we, Burmese, seem to have taken the display of our passionate nature to the next level: blogs.

Recent exchanges between two particular pro-democracy Burmese activists from Singapore and their blog readers (both anonymous and identified) have certainly left me bewildered as to what is the basic reason for all those arguments. Without a doubt, those two Burmese activists have been at the forefront of pro-democracy activities in Singapore. Unfortunately, their passion for their own ego seems as large as their passion for Burma. As a result, in many people's minds (including mine), their admirable passion for Burma has been overshadowed by the display of their unexpected sarcastic retaliations towards criticism (whether constructive or destructive).

During the referendum in Burma, many people who voiced out their opinions on the blogs were spilt as to whether to vote "NO" or not to vote at all. Now that, 2010 election is in the air, many people have also started talking about whether to participate in it or boycott it. For some people, tempers flared and things got heated up.

For both camps of such issues, I cannot tell who is right or wrong: perhaps different approaches, different perspectives, different opinions. One thing in common is that I believe both camps hold on passionately to their own conviction; be it for his own ego or for whatever cause he may be fighting for or for the greater good of Burma.

It is rather sad to see that, passion - something so prevalent in our blood - seems misplaced for many of my fellow countrymen. Many a times, our passion seems to have clouded our judgement from making logical decisions and hindered us from seeing a greater overview of what is really happening.

The more passionate we become, the lesser level-headed we seem to end up as. We lose our composure. We fail to differentiate what are important to hold on to and what are not. We forget to learn to agree to disagree.

For some of us, we may even start to bear grudges. During childhood, grudges can be considered as being cast on the sand; to be easily washed away in a short time. But for adults who have gone through various kinds of experiences in life, grudges can end up being cast upon stone; too difficult to be removed for a long time.

And so, with all those, our unity seems to be far-fetched though many people have repeatedly called for it.

In Oxford dictionary, the word "unity" is defined as harmony or agreement (in aims, ideas, feelings, etc).

Well, in the context for the future of Burma and her people, if we carry on like this, I am beginning to wonder whether one day, our misplaced passion would end up being defined as a form of our own undoing for our unity.


Speak out Loud to Deaf Ears

17 February 2009

Coming back to BB w/o B after such a long silent. Actually the previous post written by Tway Ni provoked my thoughts and moods. Thanks Tway Ni. You did a lot to BB w/o B and shared such a valuable things.
Yes--- this donation box scandals of the most relic Pagoda, Shwedagon was quickly spread over the internet within last few days , catching much much attention from Burmese people around. One blogger shared her experiences and witnessed how public donation was being managed inappropriately. But there was no response from deaf ears and blind eyes. That's very norm practice, in fact it is getting like a habit in Burma. But New Era Journal had started first move by asking direct questions to one of the Shwdagon's deacons. Instantly, he clearly denied it.

In that stance, what's the good point is the fact that nothing can hide out. People will speak out . The concerned authority will also have a chance to deny or explain whatever they want to public. That's the beauty of media and internet, more precisely, beauty of blogging. Even though it has some negative side, one thing for sure is some interesting news are brought by citizen journalists and citizen journalists are brought by blog


Simple Loss of Faith

16 February 2009

Recently, there was a rumour about the donation boxes from one of the the holiest pagodas in Burma (Shwe-Da-Gon) being contracted out to certain businessmen at a certain amount of money. The rumour stemmed from a Burmese blogger's sharing of what she encountered at Shwe-Da-Gon Pagoda some time back. Though the person-in-charge at Shwe-Da-Gon Pagoda has denied such allegation, many people have commented under her post of having heard similar schemes being carried out in other well-known pagodas like Golden Rock (Kyite-Htee-Yoe). At the same time, some readers remained unsure - such notion is too incredible for them to believe.

One thing for sure is that the damage has been done. Doubt has been cast over the readers' minds and even the reminder by a senior monk from Rangoon to be cautious about such rumour seems to have fallen on deaf ears. In a country, where the majority of Burmese people are staunch Buddhists, the only reason to justify the existence of such rumour, I think, is our loss of faith in many things happening in our country.

We no longer have faith in the government, the education system and the health-care system, etc. A visit to any government office will require a string of briberies to get things done, starting from the lowest-rank. Many educators and health practitioners have traded in their sense of integrity in exchange for the pursuit of materialistic goals or simply for the need of survival. Schools have lost their essence of education and nurturing. Our educational certificates no longer hold much worth. People no longer have a sense of pride at being "educated". Corruptions and lies have crept into Burma over the decades and slowly but surely, settled into the daily lives of our people.

I have always been proud to know that we, Burmese people, are seen as being kind and helpful. However, my personal experiences during my recent trips to Burma threatened to prove otherwise. Starting from the airport, I could no longer tell whether an airport-attendant was being helpful by offering to collect my luggages - rather an unnecessary task since the trolleys were available and I traveled light most of the time - or simply trying to extort money from me. When I pass by beggars on the streets, I am faced with a dilemma of whether to donate because many people have cautioned me about those beggars being impostors who "rent" babies or children to take advantage of our kind intentions.

How sad it is to doubt my own people! Yet, I can't deny the fact that corruptions and lies clouding over my beloved country have robbed a substantial portion of my faith in Burma.

Related Posts:
New Era Journal - Burmese (