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September 27, 2007

Fighting for Burma

I got goose bumps the first time I saw a video of a large crowd of Buddhist monks rallying in the streets of Burma for political change. I thought that history is repeating itself, ordinary men and women fighting an evil and corrupt government in non-violent ways. History has shown that civil disobedience has the power to bring down dictators and oppressive governments. But it’s always sad to hear this supposedly peaceful call for political change turn into violence. As reported this week, the anti-government demonstrations by the Burmese people are starting to get fierce and bloody.

This reminded me of what Chuck Colson said in his book God & Government, that “the belief that government is autonomous, the ultimate repository of power, the solution to all of society’s ills, is the greatest imposter of the twentieth century… Christians and the church have no higher calling than to expose it by every legitimate means.”

Although the majority of Burma's population is Buddhist and less than 10% are Christians, this is an opportunity for all of us to pray for this country’s fight for their freedom and that the kingdom of the one true God be visible in the process. In addition, may this be an opportunity for Burmese Christians and the international community to react appropriately to help restore peace and democracy to the country.

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A close friend of mine has a sister who's a missionary in Burma. He's taken his family to visit her several times, and they always return with interesting stories of how unbelievable the government repression is. It's definitely a reason for prayer.


It would be interesting to know the whole story.

The current evil government of Burma is Buddhist, and has been viciously persecuting the Christians.

So, why are the Buddhist monks protesting?

What is the background?

Mike Perry

Alas, Buddhist monks also demonstrated (and burned themselves) against a corrupt South Vietnamese government that in some muddled way favored Catholics over Buddhists. What they got in the long run was a brutal communist dictatorship, a government that consistently rates a 6 or a 7 on Freedom House's 7-point scale of repression. (Not that any of the opponents of the Vietnam War care.)

Disruption only leads to change. That change may be good or it may be bad. There's even a built-in bias to disruption that tends toward the bad. When disorder leads to a government that's more free, the disruptions often have acquired a life of their own and increase. When it leads to a takeover by a more repressive government, the disruptions quickly cease. Nasty repression always trumps weak repression coupled with corruption. That's why during the Cold War we were often forced to shore up weak, corrupt dictatorships, lest they be replaced by the likes of Castro's Cuba.

It's like pacifism. England in the 1930s had a very vocal pacifist movement, Germany didn't. The result was a weak England unable to prevent a more militant Germany from going to war. G. K. Chesterton warned of precisely that at the end of WWI, pointing out the England's pacifists were, in effect and in many of their deeds, supportive of German militarism. You can read that in Chesteron on War, out probably in late October.

We should never forget that the American Revolution was quite exceptional. It's wasn't led by ideology-driven radicals like Lenin and Stalin, outsiders who'd already demonstrated their vileness by acts of terror. Virtually everyone of importance in the American Revolution already held high political office. They were experienced and mature political leaders. That's why the U.S. is the world's oldest and most stable democracy.

And I might add that they were far more mature in their political beliefs than even their counterparts in Europe are today. The European Union is actually moving further away from Chesterton's definition of a democracy, one that reflects the beliefs of its people. From its founding the EU has attempted to structure itself to be immune from the wishes of rank and file Europeans.

And I might add that we should look at Eastern Europe and Russia to see the fruits of revolution. Some countries are doing well, becoming both free and prosperous. Some are not, particularly Russia, where the nation's leaders are turning to a nasty militaristic nationalism to distraction their people from widespread corruption. Russia seems intent on proving that everything Karl Marx said about Capitalism was true.

--Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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