Sunday, July 6, 2014

Moral value and Rule of law

I've been following all the news sources about recent series of violence clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, I observed the fact that how individuals and the country, itself, as a whole, could be so fragile and degrading value, beneath the underlying moral landscape, during dictatorship government. When I express my opinion, I solely based on my observation over the course of my whole life and, of course, myself as a Burmese man who grew up in Myanmar under the influence of traditional Buddhism which is Theravada and also others superstitions. I don’t represent any group or organization, and I also don’t represent any religious group and practices, but I, myself, alone judging with my own experiences and voicing out my love and concern over my own country affairs.

I love learning and knowing different cultures. I’m also not shy away from speaking others languages and engaging myself into different cultural and religion practices. I’ve always assumed myself as a liberal man who can adopt and transform oneself into anything. I think it is tremendously liberating, but this might probably make me a quite different man than others, or perhaps a rebellion one under the eyes of my parents and some conservatives. I personally don’t think being a liberal is a good way for everyone, but declining fundamental morale and morality value behind the closed curtain of dictatorship for more than 40 years is definitely need to be liberated. I know some conservatives will have their defensive mechanism kick in and say people are doing fine in Myanmar. In fact, they’re not fine. I’d cried and choked with tears over many occasions every time I see tragic pictures of the life of my own people.

We, civilized human beings, are always being governed by our faith and belief guided by the basic principle of moral education, and the rule of law imposed by governing body within the community or the country we’re living in. The dichotomy between moral value and rule of law has to be balanced, and we make our own judgment and live our daily life in accordance with those two principles.

Generally, religion provides us moral education since childhood to understand right and wrong, and to distinguish between good and evil. It also provides codes of conduct and becomes a part of cultural practice of the whole community. For example, every Burmese people knows they’re supposed to behave and humble in front of senior people regardless of different culture and religion. That’s how we learned our moral value and codes of conduct from school, or from bed time stories.

Faith and belief are always part of human life even before religion becomes a form of doctrine into our civilization, and it will always be. Human beings are generally not strong enough when it comes to face with challenges in this sophisticated civilization. The more sophisticated civilized we are, the more challenges we have. Thus, people find themselves refuge into the presence of religion when they can no longer cope with those challenges. Well, not all the religion practices can solve all the problems that we have- famine, inequality, human rights, job security, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. None of those issues will never able be solved by religion principles. Our civilization has grown into so much of sophisticated community.

On top of religion principles, there’re so much of superstitions blended together into Burmese culture. Giving opportunities to our citizens with access to all the information of outside world and exposure to different cultures will enable them understanding and respect to different religions and cultures. The majority of educated younger generation are already in the transformation of changes, but the stronger will to eradicate the whole superstition point of view is still a long way to go. The education system, media, cultural exchanges are definitely needed to be in place and reevaluated.

The rule of law, on the other hand in this democratized society, has to be applied and enforced people, and institutions are subject to and accountable to law. The law is not to be abused by the government nor to confine its citizens. The purpose of the rule of law is to promote confidence in people and protect them from basic human rights. It must ensure the commitment of well-being and to improving people lives. In an environment where rule of law is weakening and unstable, it creates worries and insecurities. Citizens are naturally projecting their lives with religion point of view or being distracted with religion disputes when the law is not protecting them. (This might not be the same scenario for other cultures, different religion practices, and in different governing system. The uprising of Arab spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and the civil uprisings in Bahrain and Syria will have to be assessed differently than in Myanmar).

When I tried to make my living in Myanmar a few years back, I always have this morbid fear every time I have to deal with government personnel. I have no problem with them personally. I empathized them. I love them. It is just the structure of the whole system is so difficult to engage with them. I felt like we’re living in a small room and at point suffocated with so much of egocentric view of life and everyone is trying to find every opportunity of small window to breathe in to sustain their life. In the end, I’m the one dying without vital sources of life such as foods, art, creativity, health, new philosophy, new idea, and most importantly the ambition to do the things that I’ve always wanted to. If any misfortune fall onto me such as loosing job, terminal cancer strike, or become a victim of crime, I knew that the law will not protect me and government system is not ready to rescue me.

I struck a thoughtful conversation with one of my dear friends while she is briefly visiting in New York, she said that everything in Myanmar cannot be viewed formally in which she meant of the system and process. You have to think and react in a way that you usually don’t think. We ridiculed the leadership and their mindset incapable of managing the country affairs.

The very fabric of Burmese society has to be reconstructed with concrete foundation of rule of law and cohere those principles into every government organizations and individuals. When government system doesn’t have adequate transparency and the rule to protect its citizens, the aspect of people on recent conflict between Buddhists and Muslims is subliminal propaganda.

So FIX it.

Maung Ba Kaung