I miss Myanmar. There is no place in the world like Myanmar and this in an historic moment. Because of the geo-political dynamics of the last few decades Myanmar has somehow remained mostly unknown to the West. As a result, we have yet to release modern capitalism into the nation, leaving it a resource rich country yet to be fully exploited by the global powers. Many things about Myanmar are worth noting: its lack of infrastructure and economy are surprising, its culture is overflowing, its beauty is astounding, the amount of political progress in recent times is hard to believe, its history is vast, its scars are deep and still raw, and its current narrative is the cutting edge of humanity.
In case you’re unfamiliar or you just don’t know how important this moment is for Myanmar I wanted to write a post for you, because we are witnessing history.
The history is rich and the scars are deep.
Without going into too much detail, if you don’t know the basic history of Myanmar you should go here. Myanmar, is a county of 60+ million people with a story going back as far as history itself. The main points are that Myanmar was under tribal kingdom rule until the British made it part of India. Then in WWII the Japanese came and conquered it until the end of the war. Burma had about 20 years of democratic rule after WWII, but then in 1962, the military took over through a coup and has ruled the nation ever since.
The military rule has devastated any democratic tendencies and made Myanmar a poor nation with countless human rights violations, ethnic conflicts, and poverty issues.
A few minority groups have been at odds with the military government for the better part of 50 years. These conflicts created one of the longest standing civil wars in the world and have led to the death and hardship of millions of peoples. If you’d like to read more about Myanmar scars go here.
The Political Reform of the last few months is hard to believe.
I keep rubbing my eyes every time I read a headline that’s come across my computer screen about Myanmar. In the last few years, Aung San Suu Kyi was released after years of house arrest, the first elections were held in more than 20 years, and peace is being negotiated between the Karen and the Military. All of this without a revolution. If you’d like to read more on this check out this chart some friends put together here, it’s pretty amazing.
We are watching a living legend.
If you haven’t heard of Aung Sang Suu Kyi you are missing out on the most compelling individual alive today. She has led a peaceful movement for democracy and human rights in Myanmar for the last few decades. In 1990 she won an election by a landslide in Myanmar only for the results not to be recognized by the military government who lost. Consequently she was put in house arrest, where she has spent 15 of the last 21 years. Never once has she called for anything but equality, freedom, democracy, liberty, and hope, and only through peace. In 1991 she won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. In 2010, after decades of watching her country deteriorate without freedom, she was surprisingly released from house arrest. Earlier this year she won a parliamentary seat in a remarkable election in which her party won most of the contested spots. From house arrest to parliament, wow. If you arn’t familiar with her story, get familiar. Check out her wiki here. Or watch a trailer for a movie recently made about her here or below. Seriously, learn her story.
The opportunity is immeasurable.
There is tremendous opportunity in Myanmar. As things open up we’ll be seeing what a country looks like that has been closed off to the rest of the world for years. Businessmen and politicians are circling like vultures to tap these untapped markets and resources. Let me be clear: This is not the type of opportunity I mean. Seeing Myanmar as an economic opportunity is the most evil and selfish way to view this moment. In fact, that would miss the opportunity altogether. The opportunity isn’t about us at all.
The next few decades will be a chance for us to give, serve, learn, rebuild, clean-up, counsel, and love a nation that has been devastated by years of oppression and isolation. The tremendous opportunity I speak of is this: to offer healthcare and healing for the sick, build schools for those who never had the chance to learn, construct homes for the homeless (millions of internally displaced people), remove land mines from war torn regions, treat the wounded, provide food for the hungry, bring reconciliation to enemies, give homes to orphans, make friendships, listen to their stories, affirm their humanity, and offer faith, hope, and love.
This is an amazing moment. Will you join me as we begin to unravel what it means for us to love Myanmar? Start by checking out this awesome organization: Partners Relief.