Building a Democratic Nation by Agreeing to Differ

By Thein Tun (IR)

Myanmar Map Clipping Mark with Flag 72Myanmar’s democratic transition changed again from 2017 to 2018. During the seven year-period of democratic transition starting from the year 2011, changes made nationally or individually have been thoroughly pondered. With the changes at the national- level, it is assumed that we, the national populace, need to change our individual minds and attitudes in accord with democracy standards.

Nature of the world
Our natural world exists in its balance, that is, between the two extremes—positive and negative, heat and cold, darkness and light, height and depth, new and old, good and evil, justice and injustice, win and failure, right and wrong and give and take. This can be said to be the fundamental principles of the natural world. Similarly, animate, inanimate and material things existing in the natural world comply with the nature of the world. Out of the balance the world cannot exist for long. We can easily find that the two extremes control themselves to survive.
Human society, a part of the natural world does in the same way, finding it difficult to live against the nature of the world. Living upon excessive selfishness, ego and personal interests can last for a while. “Give and take” is closely related. Had anyone laid stress on one of the two extremes, he will surely be outcasts.

Ingrained attitudes
Being worldly beings, it is difficult for us to live against the nature of the world. We must abide by the social or civil ethics and disciplines. As regards the extent we ourselves changed our minds and attitudes in accord with ethics and disciplines we have assessed the actualities of Myanmar’s politics.
System changes include the entire national machinery such as political, administrative and management systems. In changing systems, it is difficult to promptly achieve the perfect change just by changing the national administrative system. Accordingly every individual needs to essentially change in accord with the changing system by abiding by ethics and disciplines individually. Had we wanted a high-speed train it would be impossible just by changing a high-speed locomotive. We are required to change coaches into high-speed ones.
Democracy is the system that every person themself must accept and act. How much effort we exert to change into an excellent system it will still be difficult for us to reach the goal of democracy until we exercise democratic practices. That means, we must exercise the democratic practices ourselves provided that we want to achieve the democracy. Democracy has individual and public rights as well as their respective responsibilities. In addition, democracy has the right for every individual to agree to differ as well, with mutual respect. This is totally different from the principle of regarding those with different ideas to be the foes. Here we must note that agreeing to differ is not freedom to insult or make abusive language. It needs decorum or polite approach.
Until now, in Myanmar society there still can be ingrained attitudes seen. In fact, it is completely different from the right path now we are marching. The solution which is acceptable to the majority should be sought after making consultations with each other, accepting different ideas. Each and every one of us should correct self-orientated egoism with our own conscientiousness. We firmly believe that egoism is the greatest hindrance at such a time when we are building up our federal democratic nation.
We should have noticed that our country is facing with many challenges in politics, economy, social affairs, religions and international affairs. Now is the time when we must solve these challenges, hand in hand with each other. In doing so, we, all taking part in the transitional campaign are required to bear mutual understanding and spirits of making compromises in our mind. We the people are the ones who will step up our performances more quickly, simultaneously being the ones who can make hindrance of our performances. In other word, the fate of the country is really in our hands.
Under the current situations we have noticed that whenever an event occurred cracks are happening one after another amongst the people. I thought as to whether the disagreements were caused in a usual way or in a self-orientated approach. It is possible to find solutions about the disagreements caused in the former way. Finding solution about the disagreements caused in the later way is impossible, and the solution to be achieved will be contradictions between both sides—win and lose, lose and lose. It is sure that the solution will not be the one we expected. For achieving the solution the majority expected, first of all, we must amend our ingrained attitudes.

Acceptance of differences/ agreeing to differ
We had learnt and recited in schools—“We will try our best to become ourselves to be well-developed, and thence to become our schools, our country well-developed.” Only if we have developed ourselves, can our school, our town and our country be developed. Otherwise, our solemn vows will be imaginary ones.
If we are really desirous of achieving democracy, we are required to live in accord with the democratic system so that what we want will be achieved. Urgently needed are mutual respects and negotiations. Failing that what we want will retreat surely. In correcting a person’s attitudes and habits it will take time. It is impossible to amend wicked minds all of a sudden. Undeniably, we are not accustomed to democracy practices. A successful candidate who passed his matriculation can become a graduate within several years. Our system change had already passed 7 years. During the period, how far did our individual change reached in distance. If we expected for others’ changes others as well did likewise.
Though we are taking part in the system change we will be far away from mutual understandings and respects if we neglect civil ethics and disciplines, hoping for democratic rights. Now let us welcome the New Year 2018 while building up a democratic society by agreeing to differ.
Translated by Khin Maung Oo

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