Humanity and survival

Aung Thet Wine/The Irrawaddy)

An elderly woman sells sticky rice in the street in Rangoon. (Photo: Aung Thet Wine/The Irrawaddy)

Burmese Bloggers with out Borders has a worrying but insightful post The need for humanity amidst the need for survival in which Thway Ni (a member of the Burmese diaspora) first presents the near desperation of most of the population of Burma. The situation he describes, of an country ruled by a greedy out of touch kleptocracy, while ordinary people’s possibility of living slowly dwindles, is one that is familiar to us from Zaïre in the 1980s.

With the kind of government whose focus is just to fill their own pockets as much as possible, and after being hit by the natural disaster like Nargis, Burma has become like an abyss when it comes to donations. Everywhere, everything – be it health care, education, social well-being of the people, political prisoners and their families, etc – is deteriorating and at every turn in the streets,  we are faced with the sights of poverty and suffering aplenty. Many people point to the junta as the root cause of all this. That is true. However, I’ve come to realise that while this junta is still in power, we must find ways to help alleviate the suffering of our people. And money or rather donation has become essential.

The problem is that we are experiencing a global economic crisis, whether a recession like the ones we’ve had from time to time over recent decades, or something more like the Great Depression does not really matter. In a climate of lay offs and interest rates smaller than inflation, generosity is at risk. But if generosity dies, what remains?

Such happenings make me wonder whether our sense of humanity will eventually be annihilated in our struggle for survival. If such day were to come, I cannot imagine what might happen to the people in a country – where some people lose their lives or face serious health risks as they have to resort to illegal means of abortion just because there is no proper education and subsidy for family planning methods and they cannot afford to have another child: another mouth to feed [Irrawaddy – “Desperate Decisions”].


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