Stand With Freedom

free_burma_04.jpgMash, posting at Taylor Marsh’s blog, has a particularly poignant passage on the uprising for freedom in Burma:

However, no matter how many of its own citizens the military kills to try to hold on to power, it will never be able to erase the indelible image of a frail and beautiful woman standing with hands clasped in prayer amidst saffron-clad monks.

Sitting here in my comfortable sunroom, watching the birds flutter back and forth from the trees outside to the feeder beside our windows, the images of saffron-clad monks in prayer, or being beaten savagely to death by Burmese military squads, seems so far away and surreal. And yet…so painfully close to so many other things going on in the world at the moment.

The WSJ, of all places, has a painfully blunt editorial about the difficulties and courage involved in the attempt to peacefully protest a military junta as desperate as the one in Burma — and the dichotomy that is religious practice and belief in a nation so torn between peace and war.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, described the lessons she had learned from her country’s Hsayadaws, its Buddhist holy teachers, in an article for a Japanese newspaper in 1996. One of them told her what it would be like to fight for democracy in Burma: “You will be attacked and reviled for engaging in honest politics, but you must persevere. Lay down an investment in dukkha [suffering] and you will gain sukha [bliss].”

Last week saw hundreds of Burma monks investing in dukkha as they confronted the nation’s military regime. At one point, a large crowd of them gathered outside Aung San Suu Kyi’s house in Yangon, where she has spent 12 of the past 18 years under house arrest. She came to the gate in the pouring rain and was allowed to greet them. This single, poignant moment summed up all that was most extraordinary about the demonstrations, as well as what was most frightening to Burma’s military junta.

Within a few days, scores of monks were in jail, many had been beaten, and the trickle of reports emanating from the country (also known as Myanmar) indicated that monasteries had been ransacked as the military hunted down the last rebellious elements….

The Freedom Campaign has a good overview video (YouTube) featuring Michael Stipe regarding the legitimately elected leader in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military junta’s continuing crackdown on anyone who would support democracy, freedom or independence in that nation. Sitting here, reading the news from there, I can’t help thinking back to a friend from college who was Burmese, and wondering whether she ended up staying in the US…and whether she was able to get her family here as well.

For her, and for all of the Burmese struggling for independence from the yoke of tyranny, I stand with freedom.  Stand with me today, and demand that our government do so as well.  Stand with freedom.

James Boyce has more.  As does Lowell

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