What is our aim in life? Buddhists like Dalai Lama believe that the aim of life is happiness and the avoidance of pain.
Biologically, people are social beings and they flourish only when living amongst their own societies. They acquired rules for interacting with each other and this led to the survival of our species. These rules were transmitted through the interaction of our genes and social learning. Thus, we develop basic rules about promises, keeping truth and consideration for others.
Life then is in many ways a quest for things that give us the greatest happiness and satisfaction. A happy society is built on two foundations: love and kindness towards our own fellow human beings and moral principles of impartiality.
According to Daoism (Taoism) when the natural unity of humankind and the world is in place people live in simplicity and harmony. When its unity is disrupted the result is desire, selfishness and competition. Politics and Morality are called upon in the absence of unity
For survival and to be happy society has to live by rules- sparing the innocent, telling the truth and keeping promise and so on. People need to honour the principles and to find it repugnant to break them. Civil policies involve helping to choose the rule.
No doubt people vary in their commitment, but in time we apply them without much thought. But there are others who break the rules. Therefore, Politics is necessary to resolve conflicts of interest without violence. It is the art of living together within a single nation or with other nations. It is the management of conflicts, alliances and balances of power without violence.
A happy and contented society also depends on the quality of the Government. In a democratic society people are able to vote for the type of government they want. Human beings are quite good at choosing who can be trusted and who cannot. In such countries citizens take for granted two factors that are lacking in a country like the present Burma, personal freedom and peace. In 1947, when the Union of Burma was formed the peoples of the Union adopted the principles of General Aung San and the Union Spirit. They hoped that they might have a Government whose members would work together for the benefit of all its peoples. Instead of implementing the “Panglong Agreement” signed by Bogyoke Aung San and the ethnic nationalities, the military regimes completely ignored it. They have not only dishonoured the Agreement but also abrogated the 1948 Constitution and now they are attempting to replace it with a SHAM ONE. They are planning to hold a referendum to adopt the Constitution which they alone have drafted.
Constitutions and political processes have direct effects on the lives of all citizens, not only the present ones but those of future generations. If a state constitution is to be legal and meant for the benefit of the whole population then it has to be a Constitution devised and agreed by representatives of all groups of people.
It is also important that basic human rights, and the autonomy of individuals, and all ethnic nationalities are well defined and entrenched in the Constitution.
A good Government receives respect and loyalty because they can be trusted and continues to support the preservation of existing values, honour, truth, justice and freedom.
The Myanmar military regimes have made it a crime for citizens to talk about politics and have severely punished those who disobeyed. As a result many have stayed away from politics completely and politics as a debate is non- existent in Burma. Yet politics is such an important issue for people because it determines the quality of their lives.
By staying away from politics completely citizens are leaving the way open to the power mongers, like the generals to make decisions for them and mould society into their image, or to make them into machines with no brain but only with the capablity of obeying them as they command.
Not to participate in politics is to surrender a part of our power. To be apolitical is to go against our interest and our duties as citizens. This, of course is advantageous to the dictators as they want power to be completely in their hands.
The military generals do not understand that the rule of law, lack of violence, accountability, the effectiveness of government services, and absence of corruption are important and essential for a good government. And, “if the constitution does not incorporate the Panglong Agreement it is worthless”
I wish the people of Burma the best of luck but please listen to your own conscience and think wisely when you put a YES or NO to your ballot papers.
I completely support the advice of the ENC and that of Colonel Sao Yawd Serk
The author is from the former illustrious State of Lawkzawk in the Federated Shan States, as today's Shan State of Burma was known until 1948. Opinions expressed here are those of the author – Editor