Sunday, July 31, 2011

Burmese Lessons

I have been so befuddled with everything roiling around in my head that I have not been able to focus on a book enough to read it, never mind writing. But I am reading a memoir called Burmese Lessons, by Karen Connelly, about time she spent in Burma investigating the human rights situation there. She got involved with a man and ended up staying there for some time. I've only gotten part way through, but it is riveting reading. It is hard for us to get our heads around just how enslaved those people's government has made them. Like North Korea, they do not have the most basic things and are hungry and deprived in every possible way, but it has made them more determined, I think, to be free. If the world would not support their oppressors, the military government that runs that country so very ineptly, they would manage it.
Interestingly, reading about the self-censorship that goes on there, one begins to realize that we too censor ourselves, if not on a national level, in organizations, where tacitly, unchallenged policies that oppress and squelch self-expression go unchallenged. And we are far less conscious of it than these individuals. Certainly, the extent to which they suffer the consequences of the laws and policies they live with is far far greater than anything we experience.

5 comments:

Anil P said...

So well said, the hidden aspect of self censorship in organisations.

The rigours that wanting to stay in line will impose on a free person in a free society is astonishing, especially, like you said, in organisations.

Fears of a different kind drive self censorship of the type above.

Robbi said...

Wanting to keep one's job, certainly, Anil.

marlyat2 said...

And then there's also the sort of lockstep, censorship thing that builds up in organisations--here, our journalists tend to all hold similar opinions (if they want to keep a job) and so does our professoriate. I find it curious when I remember how varied people once seemed in schools and journals...

Robbi said...

Yes Marly, but even in grad school people couldn't dare express unpopular views. If they did, they were pushed out of the program.

marlyat2 said...

Absolutely. It's a challenge. And sad to think how varied people were not long ago--college meant genuine debate. Now it is more like indoctrination. We are "multicultural" but no longer "multi-viewed."