Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Reflections on Kason

Melissa Tun is an Australian-trained lawyer who came back to her homeland of Burma, and currently co-organizes the TedX annual talks. She wrote the following reflection on the holy Buddhist holiday of Kason.

"It was the evening of the eve of the Kason full moon, the second month of the Buddhist lunar calendar, and a day highly important to the Buddhist for it marks the birth, enlightenment, and nirvana (death) of Buddha. I paid a visit to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda to enjoy the wonderful serenity that envelopes it at night. Under various pavilions around the pagoda, there were groups of pilgrims chanting prayers, sharing their merits with other fellow worshippers. Their chants so ethereal and meditative it almost brought tears to my eyes. This land can be so beautiful surrounded by so much metta and loving kindness and yet be subjected to so much poverty and violence, desperate and abject poverty that no one deserves. It never fails to shake me to the core.

As I left the pagoda that night, I saw small children sleeping on cardboard at the foot of the stairs to the pagoda on the Eastern Moat; where a market sets up every night. They were young and bony, wearing tattered clothes and clearly exhausted from a hard day. By their side were sleeping a pack of small puppies, whose fortunes looked similarly unhappy. And a deep sense of sorrow washed over me. Sorrow for all the suffering, unnecessary suffering by those who were born into this world with a bleak life ahead. Sorrow for all the decades of wrongs that cannot be undone. Sorrow for all the quagmire and failed policies, the failures of institutions which were meant to serve the people.

When will deliverance come for those children? When will their brighter future appear? How can I be a part of making that future become a reality? Is there room in this country for those who want big bold change like me? A future that this country and all of its people deserve. A future that is much brighter, safer, secure, and full of opportunities.

As I left the pagoda that night, all I could do was pray. For a future when the children do not sell flowers on the streets. A future when the teashops will not be served by children who have had no schooling. For a future when the children do not beg at the foot of the Shwe Dagon. Am I asking for too much? A future without children flower sellers, child labourers and child beggars? Am I asking for too much for that future to come faster and to be this impatient for change?"

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