On Seeing the Light...
More Clearly

I am about to tell you the honest truth. I want to know more about my driven-ness. I have written about talking to my cardiologist who said that I have seen the light. I understand the light diagnosis.

I am 71 and feel like I felt back in the 60s during the civil rights movement. In addition, I have that ringing in my ears We Shall Overcome sung by Joan Baez. I fully anticipate that I will return to Myanmar with Joan Baez and witness her sing that civil rights song to the throng at Sule Pagoda on August 8, 2014.

Even though I accept my driven-ness, I am like Jack, my 3½ year old grandson, who is always asking why? When I run into anyone, I will tell them about my drive...whether they are interested or not. The other day, I was chatting with China, my web administrator, about the edition to my articles of the video introduction. I had read Clarence Page's column in the Chicago Tribune and have adopted that introductory style for my articles. My assumption is that seeing me provide a short video abstract will help express my driven-ness to the reader about that particular article.

Why I went off talking about my driven-ness with China is beyond me. She reads the articles, sets them up for my webpage, does the editing of the interviews and photos, and puts all of this in cyberspace. Nevertheless, I said, "I'd like to go to a psychiatrist to understand the reason behind my drive."

Having said that, there two reasons why I have not gone to a psychiatrist. One is that I am Scottish, which means I am frugal. The other is that I do not consider my driven-ness a psych disorder. I enjoy the process of working toward a goal. There are many parallels between Myanmar's human rights drive and America's the civil rights drive in the 60s.

China has a Rogerian style about her response about my inquiry regarding my driven-ness. She asked me to explain further with a teaser question, "You seem concerned about Scottish independence also, don't you?" Carl Rogers would have been pleased with her question. In response, I unloaded my feelings about Scotland and some who wish total independence. The summation was that many in Scotland have gotten use the notion of the Scottish Cringe. Many feel that they are not capable of running an independent country...hence they cringe at the notion of independence.

Then I went on about my interview with Min Ko Naing who is a generation younger than I. He got involved in the 88 Uprising a quarter century after I got involved in the civil rights movement. While interviewing him, I mused over the reality that he spent more time in prison in Myanmar, which is a gulag-esque place, than I spent in college, grad, and post-grad school. He felt the pain like so many others during that time and since then feel.

Pain has some benefits. Pain motivates us to change something that is causing the pain. No pain or relatively little pain will not make us move off dead center. Pain caused me to pester China.

I was driven to go to Myanmar to interview Min Ko Naing and Aung San Suu Kyi. I had arranged an interview with Min Ko Naing prior even to leaving the States but was not able to get in touch with Aung San Suu Kyi. Nonetheless, I wanted to learn about Myanmar for my classes and for my writing. I spent a lot of money and time that would benefit me in teaching and in writing articles.

I enjoyed the people that I met and the places where I went. It was worth the effort and expenses. It was the best educational and emotional trip that I have ever taken in a half century of world travel.

I came back a different person...a new and resurrected person. I went there so that I would benefit. However, I returned more concerned about how I could benefit the people of Myanmar. Prior to the trip, what I cared about was what I would gain from the trip. I enjoyed the interview and talking with the people in Myanmar. I loved the landscape and the scenery. I gained a great deal about that area of Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, I came back caring about the people and what they have and are facing.

Burmese boy in blue hat

Burmese mom with children Burmese boy

Burmese woman cooking

Burmese family having a picnic

Burmese boy eating Burmese boy smiling
Burmese mother and child Burmese girl working

Thanks to my cardiologist and my web administrator, I am seeing the light more clearly. In the past half dozen years, I have danced with death a couple of times. I know that I am not immortal. While I would love to live to a hundred, I know that my days are numbered...and not in large numbers.

How will I be remembered? I do not know; I won't be there to find out. Nevertheless, I want to be remembered as someone who loved teaching and also as one who cared about those that have suffered. You may wonder why I am so concerned about the suffering of others. I know about suffering, which occurred decades before dancing with death in 2008. I know that I cannot stop all suffering for all people, but I know that I can at least address it where I find it. What I do is not to be seen by you as virtuous or admirable. It is merely my response to remembering the way I felt, which I did not like.

While in Myanmar, I took several thousand photos. Half of them were of people who were facing uncertainties in like...especially young children. Whether adults or children, I have been there when I was a child and an adult.

I am not sure that there is a heaven awaiting any of us. However, I will be content and satisfied if I have helped my students that I teach and the people that I met to live lives filled with less pain. I think about this child. What questions whirl in his mind as I took his picture? What will he face?

Small Burmemse boy eating

Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

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On Seeing the Light

On Seeing the Light

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Confucius Said


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