Monday, September 24, 2007

Buddhist protesters show Christians the way.

Notwithstanding the proud tradition of non-violent civil disobedience practiced by Christians down the ages we are being shown the way just now by an incredibly brave show of non-violent civil disobedience on the part of Buddhist monks in Burma.

For several days now Buddhist monks and nuns, increasingly joined by ordinary members of the public, have protested against the oppressive military regime in Burma. It is a brave act because in the past such protests have been met with a ruthless response from the military who have opened fire on the unarmed protesters. This is a significant development: the clergy are deeply revered in Burma and after the military are the most organised group in the country. They exist on the alms given to them by the people and, in addition to marching, they have refused to accept the alms they traditionally take from the military and the regime. In so refusing they are effectively excommunicating those who they call "pitiless soldiers". This is an act of the most compelling moral circumstance. They may yet reap the whirlwind but they do so in response to a moral imperative, that still small voice of calm.

Let us pray that we soft western Christians have not lost that same moral imperative and that if push ever comes to shove we, too, will stand up to be counted in our hundreds of thousands.