Stray thoughts on the 71st Anniversary of Independence Day

  • by Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja, Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt

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We celebrate the 71st Anniversary of Myanmar’s Independence today 4th January 2019 across the country. As a historian by profession as well as an ordinary citizen, the writer is afloat on the waves of stray thoughts. Does history repeat itself? Does history teach lessons? In the school and college days, most history teachers and professors taught that “History repeats itself” by drawing parallels in both world history and Myanmar history.

1. The Rise and Fall of Roman Empire by Polybius
2. History of the British Common Wealth of Nations by Ramsay Muir
3. A study of History) 22 Vols Arnold Toynbee
4. A History of South-East Asia, D.G.E. Hall
5. Stricken Peacock by Dr. Htin Aung
6. ဦးကုလား မဟာရာဇ၀င္ေတာ္ၾကီး
7. တြင္းသင္းတုိက္၀င္ ရာဇ၀င္သစ္
8. မွန္နန္းရာဇ၀င္ေတာ္ၾကီး
9. ကုန္းဘုန္ဆက္ ရာဇ၀င္ေတာ္ၾကီး
10. ၿမန္မာ့ဂုဏ္ရည္ ဦးဖုိးက်ား
11. ေခတ္မွီၿမန္မာရာဇ၀င္အက်ဥ္း ဦးဖုိးက်ား

Pointing out that “that is the Law of Life or the Law of Nature”. The impermanence of life or the ever changing of Nature. In Buddhism that change is termed Lokadan Taya ေလာကဓံတရား the ups and downs of life in English. History of mankind is full of ups and downs. History of any country, any kingdom, any empire is nothing but the history of rise and fall, the ups and downs. Egyptian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Indian Empire, Chinese Empire, Persian Empire, British Empire, French Empire, Russian Empire rose and stayed for some centuries and then fell. Our country is no exception. It had its heydays as well as bad days. Viewing our history in a nut-shell we have three empires namely the First Empire of Bagan Period founded by King Anawrahta, the Second Empire of Taungoo Period founded by King Bayint Naung and the Third Empire of Konboung Period founded by King Alaung Paya. Our history teachers not only teach us how these empires were founded but also why these empires broke up and fell. They often make comparison between Myanmar history and world history pointing out how these empires rose and also why they declined. These ‘ hows’ and ‘whys’ are the essence of learning history.

Youth and Independence copy
Next history teachers point out causes and effects of history by analyzing causes into mediate and immediate causes, internal causes and external causes, fundamental and circumstantial causes. Similarly efforts are analysed. But they emphasized that some historical effects are very far reaching. It takes generations to get rid of them. This cycle of history, like the cycle of human life goes on forever. No one, no God, no Buddha can stop it.
It is only we who must make the most good out of this cycle of changes. We are the arbiter of our own destiny. Here comes up the question. How should we make the most good out of this cycle of changes? Very difficult to give answer to this ‘how’ question.
Medical doctor can give pills to cure diseases and treatments to heal pain. Engineers can maintain, preserve, renovate old buildings and create and invent new structures. Technicians can find new technology. But historians are limited in their ability and capacities to rebuild, recover or recreate the glory and greatness of their country. The least they can do is to draw or take lesson from history and apply them wisely to build the country again.
Time is an infinite sequence, and past, present and future are marked by humans. In its continuous sequence, several unforeseen circumstances are likely to creep in resulting many implications for those who are utilizing historical lessons for the good of the life or their country.
Since regaining of our independence on 4th January 1948, all Myanmar ethnic peoples and successive leaders and governments have been trying their best to rebuild their country. But seven decades and one year have elapsed, yet we haven’t accomplished our task.
Today we all face the big question. It is the ‘why’ question. Why have we not accomplished our task of rebuilding our country, our nation? It is no use, putting blame on British Colonialism, Japanese war time fascism, leaders both military and civil, successive governments including incumbent one, hostile or unfriendly foreign countries near or far.
The real answer to this ‘Why’ question is in ourselves. To become aware of your own weakness is the task easier said than done.
Unity is strength without unity nothing can be achieved. Without unity of body and soul no living creature can survive. We have been working hard for national unity which is not yet within our reach. The three Empires of our past history mentioned earlier in this article were built on unity. The primary task of the empire builder Kings was national unification, political consolidation without which no peace, no prosperity and no progress. This is truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.
Therefore regardless of different views, different opinions, different aims and objectives we are bound to make national unity as our one and the only one to achieve.
Though it is encouraging that our endeavours of both the incumbent government, leaders of all ethnic peoples are hard upon achieving national unity, unforeseen challenges are always emerging. But without having our task for the goal of national unity achieved we should never lose our heart in meeting these challenges unitedly.
Life is not a plain sailing. We regained our Independence after decades of struggles and selfless efforts of our leaders and ethnic peoples. In the same vein, leaders, government and ethnic peoples have to work together in overcoming the challenges and reaching the goal of national unity.
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