August 20, 2016

Building a shared future from a divided past

More than half a decade of armed conflict has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the exchange of bullets produces nothing but an endless cycle of needless suffering. There’s no winner in the game of violence. We know this only too well – what have the internal armed conflicts ever achieved?
The recent signing of the nationwide ceasefire accord between the government and eight ethnic armed organisations is a very encouraging sign of progress: we may now begin to nurse Myanmar back to a state of health and tranquility. Everyone stands to benefit from sustainable development and the end of pointless divisions amongstus.
But it must be acknowledged that the sheer number of painful memories we possess have drained our energy and sapped our spirit. It will take a great deal of effort to rebuild trust and understanding. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were displaced by the senseless violence and many remain traumatised after being trapped in conflict zones. The families who lost loved ones in combat carry emotional scars that will last a lifetime.
It has taken far too long to comprehend the full extent of the damage we’ve done to one another. Only now are we facing up to the fact that both sides lose out, time and time again. No longer should we count the numbers of dead soldiers versus so-called enemies: every casualty was a human being; a fellow brethren. It’s time to stop focusing on our differences and to start celebrating what we should: a shared national identity with a rich diversity of ethnicities and religions. Our differences should never have divided us but we failed to recognise a universal truth: that we are one people, regardless of caste or creed. Breaking the cycle of hostility and conflict is long overdue: the fact that we are beginning to rebuild broken relationships represents enormous progress, but it will not be achieved overnight.
We must learn how to manage our differences without resorting to violence. We must accept that national reconciliation is the only path to lasting peace. All other roads lead to a dead end – literally. Let us begin a new chapter of building consolidation through negotiation: it’s a surefire way to guarantee the end of live ammunition. Let’s start afresh: the nightmare is over.


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