– Kaye Lin
The way that one is treated in the home and in one’s family reflects how one acts within society as a whole. At a young age, Burmese youth are told not to talk back to their elders. They are told that they will not go to heaven if they speak up to their parents, and ” disrespect” their family name, so the child learns to be obedient to their seniors and hold back their thoughts and words. We know that freedom of speech is denied in Burma by the Burmese military regime, but is freedom of speech/expression denied in the homes by the families of the Burmese youth ? Could it be that our seniors and parents are the ones who are hindering the freedoms of expression of the Burmese society? By not speaking up, we might all be partaking in the sculpting of the generations to come.
In Burma, children are to be seen, not to be heard. When children go to school, parents give custody of their kids to the teachers- saying, ” If my child misbehaves, please teacher, I give you permission to hit him/her.” And children are hit frequently; hence children are scared and are unwilling to speak up. If kids are mistreated, society would never know because of the harsh restrictions on them. Children in Burma are often hit with big rulers or sticks in front of classrooms and even auditoriums. In our office, the colleagues were sharing their stories of schooling in Burma. Although, they had such a great time at school, my colleagues admitted just how strict the schooling was- in terms of not just academically, but also mannerly as well . My boss told us an anecdote of his years in college. He and a bunch of boys were accused of being smart aleks by talking back to a teacher, when in reality they were just telling the truth. They were brought in front of the University’s auditorium and hit on their backsides with big rulers- by 5 teachers. The audience was also squirming as they were being hit.
The culture of family is very much different in the West. In America, children are often heard. Although parents scold their children, they do support their child’s statements. Parents go to parent-teacher-conferences to talk about their child’s studies, abilities and disadvantages. If the child is unhappy, the parents question the teacher’s conduct. A child is free to learn in the classroom without being afraid. I think these 2 different cultures- of American schooling compared to Burmese schooling culture, forsee the politics of one’s country. At a young age, American kids are taught to speak up and stand up for themselves. We see that in America- there is an abundance of civil liberties and freedom of expression and speech; in Burma, freedoms are restricted, and the Burmese are still fighting very hard to attain their freedoms today.
What do you think about the clash of cultures? Do you think that both cultures of family reflect on the politics within the countries?