*The Tea Leaf Center is opening up our blog to provide a space and document the voices of those impacted by the recent coup in Burma/Myanmar. The opinions, analysis, and information expressed here are those of the author.*
VOICES FROM A COUP
Original artwork by Zephyr
I write this in urgency, unsure of whether I will be stripped of my freedom and my life. But if I were to vanish, I hope this piece will help other parts of the world.
Experiencing a coup has shown and taught me about the many parts of life and the state the world is in. It had shown me how people can march in unity in the face of ‘evil’. It has shown me that the greatest beauty can still flourish in such moments. The bravado and courage of Burmese people are quite astonishing. Regardless of how powerful the obstacles might be, if it violates the laws of justice, they still fight against it. But even so, when people got extremely united—of which one could even say it is a form of collectivism—the dogmatic nature within its people also drastically skyrocketed. Things they were not able to stand up for or do when they were alone, become very possible when together. Both the vilest means and the most virtuous means.
I might be getting too critical on this, but it seems so that some people use the coup as an excuse for the sake of feeding their appetite for feeling good. Such examples would be unnecessary social punishments towards people who have nothing to do with the coup and by abusing the powers of bandwagon, they eat up the innocent ones alive. Though most social punishments could somewhat be justified, I believe some ostracizing of minorities really just stems from personal grudge. And I disapprove the justification that it is merely a means with its sake for itself.
Another thing I have also noticed amongst the people is that they tend to search for meaning amidst the unfolding of history. Most of my peers have found meaning ever since the coup happened. What this means to say is that before Aung San Suu Kyi got detained, the peers were simply drifting, lost apparitions in place of whose heart was a gaping void. And after the coup, they found what they wanted to live for, die for and fight for which all gave them meaning to their lives. Such scenarios had paved the way for heroes to arise.
Now that the observations of the people are done, I would like to go over to the faction of military. The foot soldiers, the corporals, the sergeants and so on… of which all are under the command of Min Aung Hlaing. How the community of military faction operates is through the usage of what Nietzche coined, “Master Morality.” However, there are notable variations to it for what made them equivalent to monsters. First, though I assume (coming from Myanmar’s culture where they value honor and masculinity amongst men) they have this desire to be dominant. An obsession with power, and fueled by that obsession, they also had the desire to prove their dominance and ‘masculinity’ amongst their peers. In consequence to that, for the pride of their male gender, they do not hesitate to show their animalistic side in front of their colleagues. Moreover, the system of how the military operates could also be said to be in a way collectivism too, just like the people. Of which they would be eaten up alive by their comrades. Threats to their life and their family members are also used to manipulate the soldiers as well. Secondly, the lack of knowledge and education had made them to be addicted to the materialistic pleasures and earthly desires to cease their inner demons. After all, they too are human. An example for this could be given by Min Aung Hlaing too, it is in his nature to conquer ‘something’. The desire to be dominant. This could be seen when you consider his height. It would be without a doubt that he would be bullied for his height in the past or present, and so to ease the sufferings of insecurities, he would then proceed to heal that insecurity through dominance. Because after all, the entire event of coup is the result of a person’s insecurity.
The entire situation with the coup and its relation with the international community has led me to several convictions. I will go through all of them as they are all important. First, the UN, which was established with the goal of global justice, is too weak. Since notably two countries of the UN Security Council operates with the political system of socialism, their motives will only see what benefit their own country, rather than acting for the sake of the world’s well-being. Such is the case for collectivist countries such as North Korea, China and so on. Moreover, can we not conclude from this deduction that they are not fit to be part of the UN permanent members since the UN was established for the sake of world peace? However, the decision to oust them will very likely result in the resentment from the two countries, and if vengeance were to grow, it would be hard for the rest of the countries to combat the two superpowers. Furthermore, if the military were to get away with such atrocities and the coup, with also the people of Myanmar were to never attain the salvation they were promised, it is likely that it will backfire on a global scale. I say this because this would be, without a doubt, be set as an example for the world. For the small unnoticeable countries to start staging a coup with less fear of the intervention of international communities. In other words, it will give rise to more coups across the world, and consequently, injustice will rise. It is not an understatement to say that this is a threat that the world has to attend to with much caution. And Myanmar’s coup can simply be seen as starting a small fire amidst the forest, to which the entire forest will catch fire if not put out.
For the second point: the world is in dire need of liberal education. Philosophy and ethics have to become mandatory starting from around middle-school or high-school level to university level, and the resources of liberal education must be accessible to all parts of the world, and to all classes of sorts. Since today’s era, the majority of humanity has become a slave to reason which resulted in degenerating the essence of being human. Reason, and reason alone has become the only language for us to communicate intelligibly. To explain this to an extreme extent, since we had become a slave to reason, it gave rise to oligarchies and such, abusing reason to manipulate and deceive. It also had not only demolished their sense of superego, they now merely exist for the sole sake of feasting on their appetites of the id. Furthermore—often times—the root of injustice and corruption lies in ignorance and absence of wisdom, which emerged from the lack of liberal education. An example of this could be given with figures such as Hitler, Stalin, Min Aung Hlaing and so on. It seems that it is within our nature to expand and conquer. And history is the evidence for it. To further paint a more vivid picture, even we ourselves are part of that nature. All of us strives to become a better version of ourselves with ends dedicated to ourselves and others. A better father, a better mother, a better daughter, a better son, a better president, a better teacher, achievements, accomplishments: the list goes on to infinity. Even science itself could be considered the product of an attempt to conquer nature to aid humanity. And this yearning to conquer, of which the majority of today’s era tries to overcome through materialistic means, either ends up having a good or tragic consequences. Nonetheless, it degenerates the essence of what makes us human, simply an illusion of freedom.
Last but not least, I would like to ask the world very simple questions. What is a society, and what is the definite goal of society? Is it the path to greatness through conquering anything it comes across? Is it the advancement of technology? Is it the preservation of peace by combating corruption? If so, I would like to ask again for each sets of questions I addressed. If it is the path of greatness, for what sake and purpose are people striving for greatness? And what then after we actually managed to conquer, prosper and ultimately achieve that goal? And that mere reward in the end: is it not just a mere temporary sensation of accomplishment? Additionally, does those things ultimately matter in the grand scheme of cosmos? If it is the advancement of technology, the same set of questions could be asked. What then after we had actually manage to conquer nature, and decipher the universe to our understandings? If it is the preservation of peace, no matter how much we come to invent ‘flawless’ concepts of societies, at the end of the day, it is us humans that corrupt even the most seemingly perfect systems. Moreover, that inability to even be aware of our demons and discipline our very shadow that corrodes as time goes on, not only hinders the growth of those around but also the self. As steps to take measures and precautions against the grave problems of the world, should not the brief knowledge of the fundamentals of liberal arts education become mandatory? Of under what goal is the society of capitalism based off? Of under what goal is the society of socialism based off? Of under what goal is the society of communism based off? To wrap everything up, in of today’s world where a great chunk of human’s population seeks to prefer opinions that validates their beliefs rather than seeking the transparent beauty of knowledge. And as Socrates once said, “The wise man loves to be corrected”. Or, as Winston Churchill noted, “A life without the love of wisdom is simply “despotic.”
The current situation of the civilians is so that even death seems like a more convenient option. Worst case scenario is when people get detained. Tortures or labour camps are almost guaranteed, and if you are lucky enough, you might come back alive but all by fracturing the sanity of the mind. And there are no ways the civilians can defend themselves against the military as of yet, besides dispersing and relocating.