March 10, 2007

On Culture, Identity and National Survival: A Response

By Hsa June
University of Wisconsin, Riverfalls

Regarding the choices you propose I prefer the first choice. I can see your concern relating to the extinction of our culture in the next coming two or three generation. But, for me, I don't have that much concern. Why? Based on our current situation I don't see the differences between living inside Burma, Thailand, Australia, United States, or European countries. If one's live in Burma or Thailand and still able to preserve the tradition and culture, I believe, living in third countries will not be super difficult to do the same. Those who grow up in Burma speak Burmese and those that are raised in Thailand speak Thai. And I am sure not all of them able to preserve their culture and tradition. Many of us already live in a land where we are homeless and why not take a chance this time and look forward for a better future? I don't mean to abandon our motherland; however, weighing between leaving and staying, the benefit that we will get out from leaving seem heavier to me.

Just for example, if I live in Thailand I know for sure that I can never be able to attend university. You may disagree with me here, but let look at the reality. Let say even if I can attend university in Thailand, I will still have to live under constant threat and fear of the thai authority. Or I may have to buy legal document under someone name to live legally. If I do this, am not supporting corruption? Then, when will the corruption end? Or am I not living under guilt? In the other hand, if one can come to third country, at least he or she is freely to work and support for the family financially. A person can also go to school and have education. I don't think having education will make a person abandon the culture. If a person does that is his or her choice. Not all the seeds will grow, some will die and some will surely survive. My point is I have no fear for the extinction of my culture; rather, I am more concern with the danger where lives have to go through daily constant fear and threat from authority.

Living in Thailand, you never know what will happen the next moment of your life. If you go outside, you have to watch out for the police. They are like a crazy dog; they can bite you at any time. If you cross the gate, you have to raise your arm to give them respect or sometime give them an envelope. And if one can still maintain the culture under this condition, is not easier to maintain culture in third country? I write too much and I will stop here from now. I have more in my mind, but I better go study to pass the test.

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