Saturday, 29 September 2007
Friday, 28 September 2007
General Than Shwe`s government decided on the 15:th of august to increase the price of fuel... big time!
Petrol and diesel prices doubled and the price for compressed gas used to power public transportation buses increased fivefold!
Public transportation prices rose inevetably...
A grim knock-on/domino effect also upped prices for rice and cooking oil...
The cost of living in an allready poor country now not only grazed the border of the absurd, it crossed it!
People were pissed off, obviously, and on the 18:th of august main city Rangoon saw the first protest march which numered 400! The largest demonstration in the military regime for nearly twenty years!
More demonstrations followed and also the inevitable quelling of protests from the regime with police arrests.
However, demonstrations continued on a smaller scale throughout the country. After a peaceful rally was broken up by force on the 5:th of september and a small number of buddhist monks were hurt the monks began participating in large numbers, effectively making them the moral leadership of the growing protests against the regime.
Lately the violence against the protesters has increased and the ugly face of oppression and brute force has uncovered itself... it is an ugly one!
Also, the five main monasteries have now all been sealed off in an attempt to quench the leadership of the clergy and diminish the thrust of the protests aiming to "wipe the military dictatorship from the land of Burma".
What are we seeing here?
Violence! Batons cracking heads, bullets fired from close range at japanese journalists, monks taken hostage and beaten.
Oppresive action! The increasing prescense of miltary forces, sealing off monasteries, scare tactics, firing bullets over head and dawn to dusk curfews... not to mention the price increase that started everything!
No one ever said that peacemaking or marching o the streets for justice would get you friends in high places!
The longing for freedom and the peacful marching of people in protest can create nothing but unrest for the Burmese government because it threatens the status quo that it wants but ultimately can never have. The government knows this and acts/reacts accordingly... grabbing hold of what it thinks it owns with the means of guns, threat and censorship.
This is one true face of evil...
Also: What the monks have shown us is in many ways (part from the odd way of taking government officials hostage on one occasion!) the essence of what moral leadership is - Its about leading the way through action and practice. In this case by heading up the demonstrations and displaying the cost of freedom and justice with their own wounds!
That sounds familiar.
Who made that example with his own life?
Who made that the ultimate way of life and action for anyone where justice and freedom is lacking and violence and oppressive action are commonplace?
It´s a bit odd that buddhist monks (my prejudice was that they were "politically" passive!) and ordinary burmese people in the midst of a violent crisis so powerfully reminds me of the way of Jesus.
Yes, a bit odd, but their courage energizes me!
Tonight, presenting the third night of the KOPAFestival, I´ll be wearing red!
Than Shwe! The world is watching!
Monday, 17 September 2007
Tomorrow (as part of a group of five) I leave for Odessa in the Ukraine to support and serve some people bravely trying to be followers of Jesus there, far away from their native swedish culture.
When we get back next week the KOPAFestival gets going where I´ll be doing a solo performance as well as a concert with Plunge and Bobo Stenson.
This lovely woman served me a delicious chocolate cake from Barista and also gave me a grey sweater from Uma Bazaar (imported through Kuyichi). A café and a store that both attempt to make fair trade and organic food/clothes more commonplace.
I call this a "discipline" for two reasons:
- First: The somewhat "negative" sense of "restraint of trade" and conscious behaviour in the word is a true one. We have found it difficult at times not to buy the often cheaper (and commercially more accessible) products that we enjoy and crave. Buying the more realisticly priced fairtrade and organic products limits our possibilities to consume and therefore asks serious questions to a society and cultur that is largely driven by consumerism. Questions that I suggest might have to to with the justice apparent in what Jesus calls "The Kingdom of God".
- Second: "Discipline" and discipleship are, in a deep sense, related words. Being a follower of Jesus (a disciple)means taking on disciplines that transform You and reveal a healthy and sustainable way of life. A life reflecting this "Kingdom of God" in our everyday lives.
The most reasonable way to live in any circumstance one might say.
My wife reminded me of that while celebrating my birthday with a chocolate cake breakfast in bed
Friday, 7 September 2007
"... My ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that He died for them...There will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know these people and hear their broken cries..."
Some core sentences from Dr Martin Luther Kings speech on why he was opposed to the Vietnam-war! It is almost 40 years old and has its context in the USA, but still speaks straight in to any conflict of man on any scale with painful truth and clarity.
Hearing Dr Kings confession of foundation and point of reference for action, I can be nothing but astonished and humbled.
And only one thing can be suggested for action wherever there is violence, opposition and war.
Not the politics of neutrality or flip-floping
Not the agressive politics of war.
... But only the costly embrace of the enemy and the recognition of their brokeness. The embrace of the soldier, the bully, he/she who is a thorn in your side, the strangers whom we demonize...
This is love
The urging to love our enemies is not about gaining a sentimental affection to people we don´t like - or even hate. It is an urging to be like Jesus, to embrace his vocation and to walk the walk of life His way.
Offer to serve your enemy!
Dr King knew this and he embraced it and faced pain of his own.
Being a follower of Jesus, he counted that as a privilege.
I hope I can someday reach that maturity as a man.