Friday, September 28, 2007


My wife's uncle George was born and raised in Burma. He left there as a young man to spend time in a Thai relocation camp before eventually emigrating with his Thai wife to the U.S. in the early 80's. His father still lives in Burma, and George visits him when he can.

George is one of the sweetest, most decent, and genuine human beings I've ever had the privilege of knowing. He is a wonderful man who works his tail off to provide for his family, treats everyone with tremendous kindness and respect, and seldom has a bad word to say about anybody or anything. Anybody except the leaders of his beloved home country that is, and anything except what Burma's government had done to oppress its people and keep the country mired in the modern equivalent of the Stone Age for the past half century or more. He loves his father dearly, but every time he visits him, he feels depressed by the poverty, restriction of freedom, and primitive living conditions he sees all around him. Burma could be so much more, so much better, he says.

I haven't spoken with him since the recent protests began there, but I'm sure he feels profoundly distressed by the events unfolding in parts of the country. So do I, even though I've only spent approximately one hour there in a town bordering Thailand, and the only person I know from there is George. I feel distressed when I see wonderful people oppressed by a corrupt government that clings ruthlessly to power while its people suffer and a country with so much promise falls further and further behind much of the rest of the world. My heart feels alternating anger and deep, deep sadness when I read about peaceful Buddhist monks being shot, savagely beaten, and whisked away in trucks to God knows what horrors in some "interrogation" room.

I wish the world could do something to change things there for the better. But I don't know what that could, should, or would be. There are no great oil reserves there, no nuclear weapons programs to worry about, no perceived threat or geopolitical importance to the world powers that be. Burma's just a small Asian nation filled with beautiful, peaceful people yearning to be free of the chronic scourge of political and economic oppression and to know the joy of pursuing their dreams.

I pray for them because I don't know what more I can do.

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