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Burma’s Military has Stopped the March Toward Freedom. What Will We Do?

Freedom means a little bit more to me these days. As I go through my daily routine, I can’t help but think about my friends in Burma who are longing for the same freedoms we Americans have. I can only summarize it as a heartbreaking feeling.

Article by Michael Bailey April 1, 2021 //   4 minute read

America, the land of the free. We live it every single day to the point it is practically second nature to us. 

Just this past week, I watched my church service online, went for runs outside, and read news from the multitude of sources readily available at my fingertips. I called my parents each day without worrying my cell service could be cut off, and I slept at night not fearing my apartment could be raided. 

Freedom means a little bit more to me these days. As I go through my daily routine, I can’t help but think about my friends in Burma who are longing for the same freedoms we Americans have. I can only summarize it as a heartbreaking feeling. 

After nearly half a century under an oppressive military rule in Burma, the country began its path towards a new and promising democracy with their first democratically held elections in 2015. The democratic elections in 2020 once again proved promising, until a military coup assumed power on Feb. 1 and thwarted all progress for a more inclusive tomorrow. 

Today, the Burmese people fear for their lives. Regardless, they are taking to the streets to show the military and the international community that they will not succumb to the actions of a selfish, power-hungry regime. Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested while standing up for democracy.

We take for granted here in America the opportunities and the conveniences that are bestowed upon us through the democratic institutions we have established and so fervently uphold. For so many across the world this is merely a dream. Today, it is not only a dream but a lived reality for the people of Burma. 

While we so often say freedom is a luxury, it should be a basic necessity of life. When people are truly free, societies thrive. Beauty is found when all individuals are able to live their lives and pursue their dreams to be the best versions of themselves within a society that holds true to the values of diverse perspectives, ideals, and experiences.

The people of Burma are no longer free. Instead, they are being mercilessly killed standing up for essential human rights, opportunity, and equality.

I feel blessed every single day to live in a country that is grounded on the foundation of freedom for all. But I cannot stay silent seeing the devastating actions that are occurring in Burma today. It is so easy for us to forget how fortunate we are here in America. The people standing up for a more democratic Burma are heroes. As the global role model for freedom and democracy, we must support these heroes during these pivotal moments.

I long to see my friends in Burma experiencing the same freedoms I have today. I won’t give up on them, and neither should you. The thousands of miles that separate us do not diminish our common humanity that is rooted in the values of freedom and equal opportunity. The land of the free does not have to be, and should not be, exclusive to America. Together, we can raise our voices to see that the people of Burma are given the opportunity to be free, just like you and me. What a wonderful day that would be.

“Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final."

-Rainer Maria Rilke