This past weekend, I helped transplant rice and three days later – my legs, are still sore. Turns out, hard labor is hard work. There were many moments in which I convinced myself that a rice paddy life wouldn’t be the worst, but after a snake sighting and a wicked sunburn – the thought was quickly retreated.
It got me thinking about skill, about work. About the Karen in the mountains of Burma and the Bauers of Minnesota who grow food and build homes. The migrant Shan in Chiang Mai, whose backs build up the city’s infrastructure. Refugees in the US – their long hours preparing meat for your summer BBQ. The Thai couple that cooks my dinner most nights.
I thought of the ’88 Generation, a group of youth who took to the streets, tired of their oppressive government. A group who despite displacement, jail time and for some, death – made the freedom of Burma their work. My colleagues and friends who’ve decided on the same mission.
This month, marked the 25th Anniversary of those 1988 uprisings. Due to a mixture of ingrained fear and a relentless army – the bad guys, I guess you could say – won. Today, they’re still winning as people continue to suffer. And that’s the thing about work – it’s never really over. The rice will need to be tended to and eventually harvested. Chiang Mai will want more malls. I’m going to want Pad Thai again for dinner and in Burma – the work is really just starting.
But we continue on, because when you’re passionate about something – you go go go. The ’88 Generation continue to be leaders of progress using their skills to fight for a better Burma – through writing, painting, politics, social service, armed resistance, advocacy and more. Partners just released another 8 page report on relief and development work that has been accomplished in the last year. Next week, I’m training a group of young Shan students at SEED about skill recognition with the hope that they too, can start to explore their strengths and passions.
While a day in the mud was fun – I’m better at eating rice than growing it. I appreciate all of you who continue to support the work that I can, and love to do. Thank you for the varied ways in which you show your love – notes/comments, video calls, music, listening ears, photos and donations. I feel truly privileged to be here and have y’all on my side. Keep doing what you do – be kind and work hard.