Posts Tagged ‘Toleration’

**If you act inhumane towards LGBTQs, I warn you not to go ahead**

A gay couple recently celebrated their 10 years of love at a hotel in Myanmar. And everyone loses their mind on Facebook.

LGBTs Rights in Myanmar

After flipping through many nasty comments towards that couple who are also working for organisations fighting for LGBTs’ rights in Myanmar, I tend to realize a few points and I feel like jotting down.

Many Myanmar can’t differentiate between Gays and Transgenders

Every thing is all the same for them. Some people complain while both of the couple wore traditional groom suites instead of one came up as the bride. Some pointed out that gays in American movies do not act like women and others criticized a gay should only be acting as Khin San Win, a famous transgender make-up artist.

Confusing, I know. But most of them do not have slightest clue on LGBTs which is sad.

They believe as if Buddha taught that gays in this life have raped others in past lives

I have been trying to find reputable English source that shares the exact sentiment. I found none so far.

That is copy-catting western culture, they say.

I believe we cannot trace back who was first ever LGBTQ in this world. I am pretty sure there are mentioning about gays in Pali Canons. I wonder how did they form such opinion claiming acting as LGBTQ is westernization.

It is against law.

The infamous Section (377) in Myanmar restricts people from having “abnormal” sex. It can be punished up to 10 years of jail sentence or life imprisonment. The catch is that it is punishable only when there is proof that they did exactly what mentioned in the section which means polices can’t grab a random gay couple and jail them just because they live together. I guess many people forget this part. Plus, it restricts not only gays but also straight people from performing “abnormal” sex, too. Blame the British, seriously.

The rest of the accusations share more or less the same points with homophobes in other countries such as “It is unnatural!”, “Gays are disgusting!” or “It is disgrace!”. Here’s a bonus point.

It is where conservative people following either of three more dominant religions in Myanmar – Buddhists, Muslims and Christians agree!
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First of, I’m not a very devoted Buddhist anymore. I do not pray daily like I did till half a year ago. I still lie at times although I don’t kill/steal/drink/cheat with one’s spouse. If I have to come out with an excuse to conceal my laziness, it has to be my lack of commitment on studying more about it and meditating. Buddhism in Myanmar, to be precise, traditional Buddhism in Myanmar is too vague. Since a couple of years ago, I become to have a strong feeling that I must learn Buddhism via English resources. Many Myanmar might bash me for saying so but who are they to judge me?

Leave that aside, from time to time, I have been developing my tolerance and impression on other religions, or rather people who follow different religions. I have lots of Muslim friends – my first every best friend was a lovely Muslim girl, my first neighbour in my entire life was a very friendly Muslim family, one of my my first colleagues is a funny Muslim girl and I have been asked if I was a Muslim at times because of my facial appearance. Long story short, I do not have any problem with them just because they follow a different religion apart from a need of reminding myself not to talk about/eat pork when they are around. Same thing goes for Christians. In fact, I even feel like Christians in Myanmar are really lovely and fun to hang out as they have open mindset comparing to average Buddhists, a little bit more westernized in a way. And that is very cool with me. Needless to mention for Hinduism as my great great grandpa is a Hindu and even my parents still believe in some parts of Hinduism.

Being said, I do not really like the idea of discussing about religion with friends. What’s the point of doing so unless you are in an interfaith dialogue section? I feel it way more peaceful, fun and enjoyable whenever we do not discuss about it with people with various beliefs. For me, religion is something to practice yourself, not to show off to everyone around you as if you own a genuine diamond ring while theirs are intimate ones.

Here’s the point of those long winded intro. Very recently, a friend of mine chatted with me. She is my childhood friend whom I know since like 16 years ago. She is the one who had introduced me with Christian for first time ever when she had given away Christian leaflets in our primary class on her birthday as gifts to classmates. So, recently we were talking about childhood and all these stuff. She seems to love me so much even now and I love her, too. She is super adorable. Finally, she asked me what should she pray for me at church next time. I was like “Wow, she loves me that much?”. Then she concluded our conversation with “May God bless you.”

I kind of felt uneasy. To make it very clear, I am very thankful to have such a friend who would spend time for me during her religious session. And that made me think of all those “May God bless you” things. As there are very few religions in our world which are not based upon “God”, many people are very used to say “May God bless you” as if it was a greeting phrase. I am really thankful to be greeted so but I can’t help thinking if we actually need it? Of course, you should definitely do it with those whoever believe in God. But for other people who are atheists and who follow religions with different nature, would it even make sense? Yes, I know. Whoever saying “May God bless you” to me really care for me and want me to see fine with everything. I totally understand they say it with good will. But shouldn’t there be a better way to show our “love” with something  that is not related to religion? Wouldn’t it be a bit more comfortable?  Why do we need to bring “religion” to stress that we care our loved ones? Just my thoughts, you can differ freely. And I would still appreciate whoever would say this to me in future like I thank to whoever tell me to eat more vegetables although they know I have lachanophobia. (At this point, I consider literally like 15 times should I publish this or not as I do not want to lose friendship with any of my friends. I was kind of scared people would think me immature or intolerant. But I still want to do it so that you are reading it now. 🙂 ) 

And I still have no clue what should I reply apart from a boring “thanks” to “May God bless you” greeting. Should I reply something like

Impermanent are all created things, strive on with awareness.

Since it was unblocked in 2011, Facebook in Burma has become a platform for sectarian hate speech and propaganda

Since June 2012, when violence broke out between Rohingya and Buddhists in RakhineState, Facebook has become a platform where propagandists mislead social network users in Burma on what seems like a daily basis. There is increasing concern about the number of Burmese Internet users misusing their newfound access to social media. In reality, social networking is not that new to Burmese Internet users, but using it for online propaganda is.

Despite low penetration and strict control of the Internet, active debate on all major religions on Burmese forums did exist for a number of years prior to 2012, with little evidence of animosities spilling into the offline world. Although the country was closed in many ways, people seemed to be more open-minded. Burmese Internet users were allowed access to Facebook in September 2011. However, it is not the only root cause of hate speech and online propaganda since Burmese Facebook users seemed calm until the Rohingya issue emerged in mid-2012.

This falsified image appeared on a Burmese Facebook page alleging killings by Burmese monks. It actually shows Tibetan monks helping out after the 2010 earthquake in China. Pic: Facebook.Since then, fabricated news and falsified images have come from several Facebook accounts with unknown identities. Buddhists portray Muslims as extremists and terrorists while Muslims say Buddhists as racists. Hoaxes are everywhere. Monks from Tibet helping out after a disaster became Buddhist monks killing Rohingya. Infants from orphanages were falsely portrayed as Burmese children displaced by Rohingya rioters.

The situation intensified again recently after the Meikhtila riots. Extremist Facebook pages and accounts with thousands of followers have stoked the tensions with images and stories that cannot be verified. Images from alleged crime scenes – the dead body of a Rakhine girl reportedly raped and killed by three Muslims in June, the burnt body of a Buddhist monk allegedly killed by Muslims in Meikhtila and a video of Buddhist monk threatening to kill Muslims – are all questionable. The “unknown” sources recorded those and uploaded to Facebook, where they spread like wildfire. More interesting is that these are not images and videos likely to be captured by average members of the public, and security forces were included in some videos.

Read more on AsianCorrespondent.

Or should I have titled it as “Tolerance and Respect” instead to make myself sounds like a optimistic stuffed with positive imagination where no sun sets?

I have been asking a question to myself.

I have to admit that my mindset on racism and discrimination is being changed from time to time. Being said, I am not one of those easy pickings to change my hypothesis with a note or two on Facebook. But then again, I could not answer the above question….. yet.

This starts from a personal feeling – an unpleasant mood when I read the headlines saying my people are not tolerant at all – which I wish to deny. Concurrently, I have been reading many hatred comments regarding almost everything on Facebook and I can’t even read some of those till the end as those are too much for my eyes to swallow. Then I think, rethink and rethink. Where on earth those hatred comments came from!?

Intolerant people. Yes, I agree. It obviously seems that at least half of people in Myanmar online community are intolerant. They are not fond of things that are against with their religion, thoughts that are in common with their belief and news that they believe affecting  the sustainability of their culture. For instance, you would see their Facebook flooding with screams and shouts after a news about shoes with Buddha images or a foreign couple acting weird at Shwedagon Pagoda. They think those are insults to the religion they believe in, threats to what they value and humiliation to their culture that they have been grown up with. When it hurts their feelings, they couldn’t shut their mouth. They become to believe that silence could kill their culture and religion. They think they should act before things are getting worse.

On the other hand, apparently, other people take them as intolerant people. For those who think Buddha’s face is just a decoration item, putting it on shoes or even on bikini is nothing harmful. It’s not even a question. They may use it for fun as they are not intending to insult anyone. They would think in a way that why Buddhists seem so angry if Buddhism is a peaceful religion. And they start to define those Buddhists as intolerant people because they cannot tolerate what people did to the symbols of their religion. Talking about Shwedagon, it is an incredible place. People who do not follow Myanmar cultural aspects closely might even take it as a picnic spot. They might question “What’s so wrong with lying down with revealing clothes, hugging each other with this stunning view of giant pile of gold?” Again, whoever criticize them become just intolerant people who do not have knowledge of other cultures and forms of freedom.

My own thoughts are mixed.

  • If people do not do any acts that could be an insult to another group of people in anyway, there would be no intolerance.
  • If people do not bother what others do to their culture and religion and ignore all the disrespect, there would be no intolerance.

6-2 is 4 while 2+2 is also 4. I am nowhere near to let people know what should be the way to go. For me personally, as long as I am a devoted Buddhist in my own opinion, I would ignore all those stuffs what people do to Buddha or Myanmar. I have seen a little kid on Instagram who names himself as “Shwedagon1”. When I pointed out that what would he feel if I name my Instagram account as “Catholic Church1”, he replied that those were two different things which left me speechless. I finally become to understand that west cultures is way too different from that of east that it would take a century or two to make them understand the way we think on religion or cultural related stuffs. If so, why should we bother to blame others for doing things that we have no control over?