I am numb

( – promoted by Turing Test)

I am numb.  I have seen far too much human suffering brought on by humans after a natural disaster had uncovered their inhumanity.  

I am haunted. The view from the hinterlands of Burma is biblical in its scope and complete in its destruction.

I am exhausted.  I could not stay.  There was too much disease (cholera and malaria) and the powers that be in my life would not let me become exposed.  

I am rude.  I am writing this as my lovely lady makes dinner and watches me out of the corner of her eye, worried at the darkness that has enveloped me, the depression she cannot shake me out of, despite her best efforts.  She’ll succeed eventually, but, for now, she is a comfort and for that, I am grateful, though I was rude to her earlier and feel ashamed.

Here’s what I know:  The junta has got to go.  They are the most openly corrupt regime I have ever witnessed and they don’t care who knows this because they have China desperate for their oil, just as the Sudan does not care who knows about Darfur – for the same reason.  

They are taking the limited supplies they are willing to let in and putting their own names on the packages and distributing them to cronies and their families or selling them in the Yangon marketplace at inflated extremes.  Ten USD for a bottle of water?  That was so yesterday.  Try twenty, thirty.  The unprivileged (aka those without connections to the regime) are streaming out of the capital, heading east to become yet more refugees.

None of that compares to the poor souls in the cyclone zone.  They have no food, no potable water, no homes, no prospects.  They will die, whether of disease or starvation or both.  They will die in the hundreds of thousands or more.

There has been talk of more crimes.  The destruction of the mangrove forests by the regime to make room for rice paddies.  That did happen.  The sale of rice by the regime outside of Burma while their people starve.  I don’t have proof, but I believe it.  The loss of a Red Cross boat that tried to navigate the river bloated with trees, bodies and disease.  The survivors (the people on the boat did survive; all the supplies were lost) will now need every vaccination ever created and that is the only water the neglected and forgotten of Burma now have to drink.

The frustration of the U.S. Marines, who I now think are GOD, and whose ships are sitting off the Burmese coast with every supply the people would need, two score helicopters to ferry it in and the damned, damned junta won’t let them in their airspace.

I have found a new reason to love my two countries (U.S. and U.K.).  Even Bush, who I can’t stand, has pleaded with these Myanmar bastards to let them in.  The EU is now openly condemning them.  I hate war.  I believe it should always be the last resort.  But, if the only way to save upwards of two MILLION people is to violate the airspace of such total assholes, I say go for it.  But then, I’m not the one who has to consider if that will kick off a war with China because they need the oil there and will back the bastards against us.

I’m numb and angered.

One of our contributing writers on THE ENVIRONMENTALIST is going to post an expose about several of John McCain’s campaign personnels’ lobbying connections to the Myanmar regime.  I’ll post a link here when it’s available.  

For now, I’m numb.

UPDATE:  A new cyclone is forming off the Burmese coast.  It is unclear where it will hit, but it’s on path for Yangon.  


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  1. to the ngo’s who are risking everything to get into Burma to help.  Link to list here.


    • RiaD on May 14, 2008 at 12:08
  2. http://ukpress.google.com/arti

  3. another oil country brutal to its own people and protected because of its oil?

    and then, when these citizens become “terrorists” they will be the ones villified.

    it is just fucking amazing.

    but don’t be depressed, stormchaser. this is the reality. instead, be free from thinking that we can show these brutal types the light.

    we need to overcome this view of the world. it’s that simple. we can come up with a fairer distribution of power. we can not rely on the state as capitalist/socialist/communist/fascist versions. we have to find some workable way of unlocking the power of civilians, industry, gov’t, environmentalists, et al and unleash something stronger than consumerism.

    i’d call it freedom.

    we can promote equity. we can forge some equity in our relationships

    • Zwoof on May 14, 2008 at 14:57

    I too feel frustrated because I am near yet so far from both recent catastrophes.

    As I wrote in an earlier essay during the Buddhist uprising in Burma,  these are very superstitious people.  In fact, the junta moved the capitol to another city on the advice of a shaman (or so it has been said).

    Beware the Nats of Burma

    Tue Oct 02, 2007

            Prior to Theravada Buddhism, the Burmese were animists who worshiped a series of nature spirits called Nats. The term Nat derives from the Pali-Sanskrit, natha, meaning lord or guardian.

    There are 37 officially recognized Nats (inside Nats), each with its own history. The Nats are spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind, stones and trees and take many guises. All Nats are  ghosts or spirits of heroes.  There are many lesser nats (outside Nats) that are characterized as mischievous when they are disturbed.

    …Some were martyrs, people who had been betrayed or had suffered a premature and frightful death. One had died of diarrhea and was reputed to inflict that on those who displeased him.

    Regardless of their origins, they were easily disturbed, given to making a fuss when they were not treated with respect.

    ~Amy Tan, Saving Fish From Drowning, a novel combining Myanmar politics, Burmese superstition and spirituality, plus a touch of humor.

    A pious man explained to his followers: “It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. ‘Don’t be scared,’ I tell those fishes. ‘I am saving you from drowning.’ Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire.  And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.” – Anonymous

    May the Nats haunt the Junta until they are completely mad and driven powerless into the jungle to face their fates from nature.

  4. I empathize. I can’t completely understand what you’re going through because seeing this in person has to be devasting.

    Britain, France and Germany are going to sponsor a UN resolution under the “responsibility to protect” clause. They don’t think it’ll pass, but they’re going to try it anyway.

    Regarding China…someone has to make the case to this govt that, at this point, with millions of displaced, starving and desperate people in a country that shares a border with them it is in their interest to force the junta to stand down and accept aid. I can’t think of any more serious threat to the oil supply from Burma than millions of desperate people staging a violent overthrow of the government because they don’t have anything to lose.

    • OPOL on May 14, 2008 at 16:03

    may our thoughts be with the suffering millions.

  5. …for the suffering of the people in the world who are mere pawns of the powerful.  I understand your numbness, but you haven’t let it prevent you from doing all you can to help them.  Thank you.  

    IMHO, there’s a genocidal motivation for the junta’s seemingly baffling refusal to let the aid get to the stricken.  They can get aid to their own families and their supporters, while refusing to get any significant amount of aid to the rest of the population.  Evil regimes have always acted in evil ways, especially when unchallenged by others.  I think that we need to demand that our congress members to get the Administration to work with other nations to condemn Myanmar, and its enabler China to make sure that the people of Myanmar get the help they need, now.

  6. … from reading this essay, I do not get a sense of numbness but only of your great humanity and suffering.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us what you have experienced.  I cannot imagine the strength it took to have gone through what you have and still taken the time to write about this terrible tragedy.

    I love you for doing this, for writing this, for sharing this.  It means more than you could ever know.

    In situtions like this, sharing real knowledge is precious.

  7. I was listening to a cd I made for my niece. When this song came on, I thought of you stormchaser. I know you’ll find a way amidst all this craziness to stay young at heart!!

    • kj on May 15, 2008 at 03:36

    you’re back!  

    • kj on May 15, 2008 at 03:45

    But, if the only way to save upwards of two MILLION people is to violate the airspace of such total assholes, I say go for it.

    A couple of people here were saying the same thing, and I was one of them.  I don’t really care if it looks like, or is, an invasion, the time for air drops was last week, damn who “owns” the air space.  

    hundreds of thousands are dying right now in some of the worst conditions imagionable… and because fears of war with China… we’re letting these people die.  

    i think this might be the last nail in America’s coffin.  I really, truly do.  There is no outcry. There has been little outcry from the Progressive Left and that has disappointed me beyond words.

    Your friend Martin came here to give us your message and I was very grateful for that as were others.  

    • kj on May 15, 2008 at 03:56

    to what all has been said above.  i was glad to know you were there.  i am glad to know that you’re home.  please feel free to ‘detox’ as there are stalwart hearts here who have had you in their thoughts this past week.  this is a situation that is quite simply beyond imagination, both in the scope of nature’s power and the narrowness of man’s compassion.

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