I have a dream, Part 3

I have a dream, Part 3

 

KJ John | Jun 10, 08 in Malaysiaki

As usual, TQ all of you again, Mr KJ John/Malaysiakini and wish to request forgiveness for using this article in Burmese context.

martin luther king 270508 “Yes, it is truly historic, and the UK newspaper headlines captured that sentiment, as did papers around the world. Nothing could change the image of America more than this. But it is more than historic; it is very personal for many of my generation. A new generation just sees this as natural – he’s an inspirational leader who happens to be black, which matters little to them.

“But for my generation – I’m dating myself now – this is a transformational moment, one we didn’t think would come in our lifetimes. Race was the issue that changed us, shaped us, determined our path, and even defined the meaning of our faith. Now a black man is running for president of the United States. Amazing grace.”

This is what Jim Wallis wrote in his Heart and Mind column of his blog. These words resonate with me too about this kairos moment in the US!

Today, in the US, Martin Luther King’s (MLK) dream has been truly fulfilled. Freedom bells do ring in the United States of America.

Can we understand what MLK really had dreamt of? It was more that the right to vote. Do we see the full implications of his dream realised now? Can we now understand his actions and the reason for his death by what happened in the US over this last week? The final part of his speech hoped and dreamt that dream; which is now fully realised.

“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring’.

“And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

A Malaysian reader of Malaysiakini responded to my column with these. Let me quote Ong Puay Liu: (May you all kindly allow me to also change the context of Ong Puay Liu article into Burmese)

“The Burmese Dream: We have a dream that one day, in this nation called Burma, freedom and justice will be the hallmark of the Burmese life and Burmese state of affairs. We have a dream that one day in this nation called Burma, all her citizens will be recognised as equal Burmese citizens, rather than by their ethnicity or religious status.

“We have a dream that one day in this nation called Burma, all children will not be judged by their ethnicity but by the content of their character. We have a dream today. We have a dream that one day, the Burma nation will be transformed into a situation where all Burmese children – irrespective of ethnic origin – will be able to join hands and walk together as sisters and brothers.”

Well Puay Liu, that is my dream too. Yes, I pray that like MLK we too can dream that dream for Burma. I also believe that if American can, Burmese too.

 

 


‘Transformational moment’Now, what would it take for this to happen? Jim Wallis put in with the right words: “a transformational moment”. Yes, that is what it takes.

Hopefully, it will not need lives sacrificed or bloodshed. But, that transformational moment is what is needed.

That is what is happening in America today. For transformations to occur there must usually be sacrifices; there must be pain and there must also be death. Death of older paradigms; of older ways of thinking and being; death of the so-called time tested way of doing things which has become decrepit and stale.

But, it also needs courage; a special and rare kind of courage which transcends the mundane but sees new hope; which articulates that new hope and dreams that hope. One day it can become a reality, maybe in our lifetime, maybe not.

 

But what matters really is that we, those who believe in the new hope, do stand up for that hope and choose to be counted with that new hope. MLK did and so did Robert F Kennedy (right).  In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed in the US.Let me quote what Kennedy said in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966: “Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”

robert kennedyYes, what is needed in Burma to create that transformational moment is the moral courage to change what needs to be changed and then be prepared to move on. The 6th of June was also the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. What would the world have been like if he had become the US president? We do not really know.

What we do know is that, maybe, well maybe, someone like Barack Obama may have never arisen, and the Martin Luther Kings of the world would never have been necessary. But, upon the pain and suffering of these earlier ones; the new steps and hopes are always built.  

Such can only be the Burmese experience too. Upon the sacrifices of our Father of Independenece, General Aung San, the foundations of this nation were laid. But, in the last 50 years or so, we became very self-interested and self-focused almost to the detriment of the larger interest of growth with equity.

I think we can learn from the mistakes of the past and we can move on. My prayer too is therefore that one day all Burmese of all colours and shades can also sing that Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’.  

May God Almighty superintend this for Burma!  May God Bless Burma.

 

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