Images from Myanmar of a Christian Nun staring down police officers and pleading with them not to shoot protesters have exposed just how close the Western world is to the precipice of its own demise.
Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng opposed the brutal crackdown asking the officers “not to hurt the protesters, but to treat them kindly like family members.”
Tawng told Reuters, “I told them that they can kill me, I am not standing up until they give their promise that they will not brutally crackdown on protesters.”
Her actions failed. Two protestors were killed, and according to Reuters, “several others were injured.”
If you missed this, it’s because, Nu Tawng’s selfless defiance was drowned out by a British Prince, an American actress, and an American talk show host. The embarrassing, vain self-serving media frenzy, elevating two millionaires, and a billionaire, caused a news blackout.
It’s the tale of two cities. One, not without irony, speaks freely, claiming to be oppressed, while the other fights just to have its voice heard. Yet the first sucks in the sympathy, and attention of the world, while the second, barely acknowledged, humbly kneels before guns, and the prospect of no freedom at all.
To understand Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng’s fight, Myanmar commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, brought the country back under military control on February 1.
Arguing electoral fraud, he sided with the opposition, then booted the Democratically elected government, placing pro-Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, (a lifelong campaigner for Democracy in the country, and Nobel Peace Prize winner) under house arrest.
Suu Kyi is charged with possessing illegal walkie-talkies, violating Covid-19 restrictions during last year’s election campaign and publishing information that may “cause fear or alarm.”
Suu Kyi’s governing hasn’t been without scandal. According to the BBC, her policies regarding the Muslim, Rohingya minority have been the focus of embarrassing international attention for the country. Many claim her 2017 crackdown on the Rohingyas, considered by the Suu Kyi government to be “illegal immigrants,” was “genocide.”
Supporting Suu Kyi is synonymous with supporting Democracy. Min Aung Hlaing’s overthrow strengthens this parallel.
In some aspects, this shares a likeness to the shady totalitarian actions of the West’s militarised bureaucracy, through which many Governments have manipulated constitutional protections, and turned the “fight” against the Wuhan COVID-19 virus, into a fight against the people.
This is exemplified, in particular, by Canada’s arrest, and imprisonment of Pastor James Coates. Like Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng, Coates’ story is sidelined in favour of “bigger things,” “better people,” and bigger ratings.
Harry, Meghan, and Oprah’s, soap opera, took centre stage on social media, and dominated headlines.
One particular allegation created a short-lived anti-Monarchy industry, filled with unthinking, banal netizens virtue-signaling a cult-like chant in unison: “Black Lives Matter,” “Time for a republic in Australia,” “The Royal family are all racists.”
While the world obsessed over three excessively rich Westerners, decrying their alleged oppression at the hands of other excessively rich Westerners, a poor Christian nun from Myanmar was kneeling in front of real oppressors, asking them to turn their guns away.
Where were Oprah’s cameras? Where were Meghan’s tears, and concerns for the oppressed? Where was Harry’s sympathetic endorsement? Where was the focus of the world?
Though Tawng’s efforts didn’t succeed, at least she did something. Though Coates is in prison, at least he did something.
We fail to be taken seriously if we fail to hear and see Coates and Nu Tawng.
They are an example of how life-affirming Christianity is in the face of oppression. They embody a rejection of the false doctrine that teaches defeatism behind the veil of “losing graciously.”
This is one not far removed from Chamberlain’s well-intentioned Munich agreement, which gave Hitler the Sudetenland in Western Czechoslovakia, to “seal” the promise of “peace in our time.”
Take in the observation of Czech philosopher, Jan Patočka, talking about the civil disobedience:
“Accommodation has so far never led to an improvement in a situation, only to a deterioration. The greater the fear the servility have been, the greater the lack of consideration been on the part of the authorities. There is no other way to make them lessen the pressure than show to them that injustice and arbitrariness are not ignored. People must always be dignified, refuse to let themselves be frightened and humiliated, say that which is true – behaviour that will make in impression just it will be such sharp contrast to the behaviour of the authorities.”Citizen vs. State, cited by Harry Jarv, Living in Truth: Tribute to Václav Havel, p.243
Knowing that we are not free from suffering, but free in our suffering, we live in Christ’s victory, not our victimhood.
It’s radical, determined, joyful, humble, and defiant in the face of tyranny.
The Christian has a Lord and because of His Lordship, we can stand firm against the Abyss.
It’s on the plains of appeasement and the back of “losing graciously” that Blitzkrieg was born.
This is why we must reject the false doctrine so often shoved down the throats of parishioners, by Christian leaders, who’ve abdicated mission to centrism, surrendered the uniqueness of Christ to pluralism, and applied “losing graciously” as a coping mechanism for the post-Christian context.
I’ll give Clarke Pinnock the penultimate word:
“There is no future for liberal Christianity because it just listens to the culture and has nothing to contribute. It allows itself to be led around by the nose, while ruining churches and robbing the world of the Gospel.”Clarke Pinnock’s rebuttal of John Hick’s case for Religious Pluralism. Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralist World, 1995.
Tawng’s defiance holds a mirror up to most progressive Churches in the West. What’s reflected back isn’t what many would expect to see.