The reports of the devastation in Burma this past week have been heart-rending; the scale of human suffering is incomprehensible to me.
It is one thing to accept this disaster — even on such a massive scale — as being in line with our precarious position on this planet. What is less easy to accept is the intransigent behavior of the Burmese military government in response to the natural catastrophe. One would think that even the junta could recognize the plight of the Burmese people, yet the government’s distrust of outsiders is deeply entrenched, and the magnitude of the disaster will be exponentially exacerbated by human ignorance.
Anger is a natural response to this situation, and not altogether unwarranted. However, looking deeply, can we also find space in our own hearts for lovingkindness and compassion for all people of Burma, including the junta? After all, if the generals were indeed peaceful, secure, happy and at ease, would they be so fearful of outsiders? If they were not so fearful of outsiders, wouldn’t much needed aid actually reach the people who so desperately need it?
It’s tempting to try to get into the heads of the generals — to draw some sort of psychological connection between their desperate and selfish clinging to political power and their fear of anyone beyond their narrow circle of confidants — but to do so is to be distracted from the larger picture. One can only hope that the generals will come to their senses and allow foreign aid workers to help in enough time to stave off the disaster beyond disaster that looms ahead.