To win the Hearts and Minds of the people of Burma

To win the Hearts and Minds

of the people of Burma 

Surely there must be a_

 “How-to-Govern” manual somewhere that says:

Thou Shalt Not Martyr Thy Opponents

Unless Thou Really Is Not Interested in

Winning the Hearts and Minds of Thy People’.

Marina Mahathir

Actually I just want to write two shot commentaries after reading Burma Digest but I cannot finished in few words because they moved my heart so much.  Dr. Thuria Tayza’s presentation to Wilton Parl Conference, “We Also Want to Stand on Our Own Feet” and Jim Mcnalis’ ” Creating Heroes”. After reading the following two paragraphs of the above named authors, my eyes were filled with tears because their words went directly into my heart.

Dr. Thuria Tayza wrote,”But we also want to be able to stand on our own feet. We cannot go on indefinitely living our lives on charity from around the world. We do not want our people to become regarded by the world as begging people. We do not want our next generation to have to go on begging around the world for charity and donations. We want our sons and grand sons to be able to live in their home land as proud citizens who can stand on their own feet.”

Jim Mcnalis wrote in his, Creating Heroes, “What the regime fails to understand is that they have not created prisoners, they have created heroes.  Like Daw Suu Kyi, they are unable to break down their opposition.”

Actually most of our opposition and our enemy SPDC had unsuccessfully tried to influence the “brains of our Burmese Mass, population” by presenting facts, figures and statistics. We count the number of political prisoners, number of raped ethnic minorities, number of HIVpatients, inflation figures. We had tried to influence the brains of the Burmese People but we could not or failed to mobilize the whole population to rise up against the SPDC.

And SPDC also show off the infrastructures they had built such as; roads, bridged, dams e.t.c. to influence the people including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But they even blamed Daw Suu that they allowed Daw Suu to tour the country to appreciate the above but, “she ignored the progress of the Nation building process of the Military.”

That shows that we all are ignorant in politics, if I have to borrow the words of the famous political Analyst, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, “People decide with their hearts but not with their brains.” If we could move the heart and minds of the people, we could mobilize the masses; detailed facts and figures are not that important actually.

No wonder, politicians and leaders frequently and successfully used the “Patriotism” to push for the mass mobilization even to start a war. When blinded with Patriotism, people are willing to kill or dared to be killed.

Love for the country, race and religion are successfully used by the leaders to mobilize the whole country. Even the dictators around the world tried to threaten their citizens with bogeymen: foreign super-powers, neo-colonization, re-colonization, communists, foreigners, possible loss of the country, race or religion e.t.c.

Actually SPDC had failed badly in this Psychological and Propaganda Warfare. As Jim Mcnalis wrote in his, Creating Heroes, “What the regime fails to understand is that they have not created prisoners, they have created heroes.” If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is free, she would not get the present support of the whole Burma and the people of the world. May be even difficult to get a Noble Prize. Even before getting the power, opposition leaders, U Nu and Aung Gyi chose to walk a different path.

If only SPDC had allowed NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to form a democratic government, the Political scenario today would be different. Please kindly allow me to use an analogy.

Parents had given their beloved daughter a piece of cake. The big brother was angry because he thought the parents had shown some favouritism. So he used his bigger strength and power to take away the cake from his helpless power sister. The parents and neighbours witnessed that and labeled the big brother as a big bully. All of them pity the poor young sister.

If only he is more diplomatic, asked nicely that he is hungry, parents could give him another piece of cake. Or his gentle kindhearted sister would definitely share her cake. After all he is the one who is brave, strong and protecting her from the bullies in school and neighbourhood.

If only the SPDC is more diplomatic, may be the corruptions and infightings amongst the opposition could definitely need for NLD and Daw Suu to even ask help from the Tatmadaw. After all, the military is needed in all the countries to fight off the enemies and to unify the country. They are at least trained, well organized and have the experience of running the country’s government machinery. Just see our neighbours, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. After bringing down the military dictators, people have to turn back to ask help from their military later.

So arresting of Daw Suu, Min Ko Naing and all the political prisoners made them hero and definitely the whole world and all the Burmese People see SPDC as mere thugs.

But we had badly failed to mobilize the opposition during the Depayin incident. I think that is our biggest weakness. God forbade, if they do any thing bad on our leaders or even if bad things accidentally happens, we must prepare to mobilize the whole population to over-throw this SPDC Government.

I hereby congratulate and wish to record the praises to the BBC. We all know and accept that BBC was the prime mover of the people’s power in 8888 movement. On the day of surfacing of the “Royal Wedding Video”, BBC World’s  the “Asia Today” successfully and effectively shown a section of the video-clip of the diamonds of that “Princess” followed by the scene of Myanmar’s poor people in the slum. The short clip showing the mother feeding her hungry daughter with rice only without any curry, followed by the following video pictures could influence the world’s opinion on SPDC. Because the mother was talking to the BBC camera, the child touched her mother to attract her attention, showed the gesture by pointing her mouth to feed her could move the audiences’ hearts. Some of my friends even cry with pity. Congratulations BBC. You have done a very good job for us.

BBC had successfully illustrated the Dr Tayza’s following words “In Burma people are poor not because there’s no money in Burma. There is money in Burma. Burmese generals are making billions of dollars every year from gas, oil, forestry and mining in Burma. But the problem is they are using that money to buy huge diamonds for very grand and very glamorous and very glittering weddings for their daughters. So you know what is the root cause of long term problems in Burma.”

Bo Aung Din

The Power of Arts Moves

The Hearts and Minds of the People

The greatest power of art is its power to shake us into revelation and rip us from our default mode of seeing. After an encounter with that force, we don’t look at a face, a colour, a sky, a body, in quite the same way again. We get fitted with new sight: in-sight. Visions of beauty or a rush of intense pleasure are part of that process, but so too may be shock, pain, desire, pity, even revulsion. That kind of art seems to have rewired our senses. We apprehend the world differently. (BBC’s Simon Schama)

The Arts have an incredible potential to heal the individual, and to heal communities at times of need and turmoil. But, perhaps even more important, the arts can empower us to become agents ourselves towards the healing and empowerment of others.  “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”- (Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl, 1952)

Writing, Poetry and The Spoken Word can empower individuals and communities. Words can unite, uplift, teach, build communities, inspire, and heal. Even stone, clay canvas or a blank paper came to life with the magic touch of artists.

The whole nation or even the whole world could be motivated by the power of art. There are some words that moved our hearts so much.  

Our beloved national hero Bogyoke Aung San’s speeches had moved the whole Burma to fight for the Independence. ‘I Have A Dream’ speech given by Martin Luther King from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the August 1963 had electrified America.

No wonder, politicians and leaders frequently and successfully used the “Patriotism” to push for the mass mobilization even to start a war. When blinded with Patriotism, people are willing to kill or dare to be killed.

Former UN Special Envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail recalls his meetings with Burma’s most famous prisoner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.in his, One Wisma Putra.. His art of portraying Daw Suu choked my heart, and I could not even talk for a while and unable to hold my tears.

“After a period of waiting she emerged, cool and composed, in a traditional blue blouse and sarong, with bunga melor (jasmine flower) in her hair. Call it a grand entrance, if you like. She was polite and dignified, placing me on her right as she sat with me on a semicircular settee, her back ramrod straight. It was one of those settees without backs, the kind that tends to make one slouch if one is not careful, and it made me painfully aware of my own posture, sitting beside her with her back straight as a dancer. Subconsciously, I felt obliged to match her posture, losing the battle, however, and slouching as the discussion went on. There was no question about it —she looked very attractive, what with the scent of the melor in the air at close quarters. At an early part of my conversation with her, I said, “You are not only courageous but also attractive.” (I was forewarned that she was glacial). By the end of a two-hour chat, during which time she did not bend at all (perhaps symbolic of her uprightness in terms of her principles), a basis for an ongoing relationship had already developed.

She believed wholeheartedly in the rule of law and hoped that the UN would equally commit to that in helping Myanmar. Our discussions covered, obviously, issues of reconciliation, the rights of various ethnic parties, the future role of the military, etc. But the times with her were very rich. Conversation meandered to other subjects like life, culture, humanity, law and rights. The Lady (Suu Kyi is affectionately referred to thus across the country) really can talk. She impressed me, surprised me, that despite her years of detention she had managed to keep track of virtually everything, including UN developments and those in the world. She even told me that she had been re-examining the Myanmar constitution in readiness for the difficult negotiations ahead toward national reconciliation and democracy.

Marching songs and bands are used by the armies to psyche their soldiers and the public. All the people are elated, ecstatic, euphoric and excited under the charm of the marching songs. Nationalistic spirits rose to the heaven. Love of the country filled our heart. Even hearing our National Anthem abroad, especially played after winning any game or sports at the prize giving ceremony would give a goose skin to all of us. Not only at the national level but our school song, party song or company songs could unite us and give us power and love to the respective organizations.

The other powerful art forms such as movies, plays, stage performances etc also need the background music. Even before the real scene of fight, love, sadness, scary events appear, background music could psyche the audiences in the required moods. And, nowadays because of the advances in Information Communication Technology, Internet is rapidly establishing itself as the most powerful weapon of the powerless poor ordinary citizens.

So, to mobilize the people, we need to know that the people tend to decide with their hearts but not with their brains. If we can move the heart and minds of the people, we may be able to mobilize the masses for our ultimate people power movement to topple military rule in Burma..

Dr San Oo Aung

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