I followed the anti-government protests and cries for help in Burma (now Myanmar) with concern since mid September. I remembered reading an article that said since the monks have joined the protest, the oppressive military government (junta) in Burma are now caught between a rock and a hard place, mainly because it's unimaginable that the junta will use force on the peaceful monks in Burma.
That article struck two thoughts in me:
1. Why would Buddhist monks, who have renounced the secular world to lead a homeless life, take such an active part in politics?
2. What if the unthinkable happen: the military junta decides to use force on these monks?
Guess what? The unthinkable happened. The military junta in Burma finally used violent means to suppress the protest in yet AGAIN another brutal crackdown. Scores of people including monks were arrested, beaten, shot, brutalized and killed. The soldiers and policemen, acting on orders from the junta, stormed many temples and monasteries to detain monks and from the accounts of what I've read and viewed: tortured and killed many monks in horrifying ways.
For decades, the military junta have ruled Burma with an iron fist with total disregard for the welfare of the people. Poverty and famine is at an all time high and there are virtually no proper education or job opportunities with many brutal crackdowns on the intellectuals and students in Burma.
Burma, already one of the world's poorest nations, recently saw a ninefold increase in the price of oil and a 40% increase in the price of rice, which made the incompetent and power-hungry junta fearful of any popular uprising, hence even monks were not spared from the brutality as they struggle to cling on to power. Such clinging and lust for power are invariably destructive and the cause of untold sufferings.
Under such extreme conditions, it’s impossible for the people of Burma to practice the Dhamma, let alone maintain a calm and serene mind. Therefore, the monks out of deep compassion for all those suffering in Burma, decided to take part in a peaceful protest with the hope that the military junta would do something to alleviate the suffering and improve the welfare of all Burmese citizens. By doing so, the holy Sangha, as the protector of the noble Dhamma, now lies completely brutalized and shattered by the oppressive and inhuman regime in Burma.
If you happened to read this, please try to:
1. Say a prayer or send your good thoughts to people and monks in Burma who are suffering now.
2. See what you can do HERE.
I leave you to ponder over these two quotes:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke.
(This happens to be my Karate grandmaster Vince Morris sensei's favorite quote)
There are times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest - Elie Wiesel.
(Let's take protest in this context to include active compassionate action: saying a prayer or good thoughts, sharing the news regarding Burma, donating to the people of Burma, appealing to the UN and your government to help the people of Burma and etc.)
Free Burma! Free Myanmar! Support the Saffron Revolution!