The Tragedy of Life?

I am the type of person who shies away from watching tearjerkers at the cinema. I don’t like to walk out of the cinema feeling melancholy. I much prefer to laugh my cares away with some comedy, with a chuckle and a smile and a dozen good feelings in my head the minute I get out of the darkened cinema hall.
Because I am the type who feels deeply for others. Empathy is my strong point. It is also my Achilles’ heel. It drives me to involve myself in activities I usually won’t get into, but emotions, once they get you, never leave.
When they start making a nest in my head, I start wondering about the state of the world.
And I wonder: how did it happen? Why do such things happen anyway?
A friend who travels to Myanmar a couple of times a year has told me stories which seem quite unbelievable. And to think that I am here, happily griping about my TimeNet being disconnected and all when a couple of thousand miles away, some Myanmar people are having it much worse, in every sense of the word.
When he is there, he cannot access his email. He is cut off from the rest of the world.
But for him, it is temporary until he gets himself back in Bangkok or some city or town in Thailand.
But for the Myanmar people, they are forever cut off from the rest of the world.
I cringe when I hear the stories he tells.
Every story is like a drama. Which unfolds right before his eyes and I sense a helplessness in his words. I can feel the helplessness too, and I am right here in Malaysia, comfortable, happy, making a living and utterly disconnected from the turmoil of these people.
He recounts the tale of a poor, young couple. The husband used to work at the Buddhist temple where my friend used to stay whenever he was in Myanmar. The young man was strong and able until one day, he just fell sick. From that day onwards, he grew thinner and weaker. He couldn’t make a living anymore. His young wife had to find a way to make ends meet. She began to cook for the monks at the temple. For her services, she gets RM2.50 per month.
Yes. RM2.50 per month! My eyes grew big with disbelief.
This young woman also has two young toddlers. Without needing to know, I believe both should be malnourished.
What is even more heartrending is that she can only nurse her children using one breast, because the other is cracked, oozing pus. My friend believes it has something to do with the cleanliness levels in the slums. Diseases spread easily. He gets a bunch of worms in his stomach as souvenirs each time he returns.
When he goes to see her this time, he will bring for her Dumex – baby formula – so that she can give her children more nutrition than her own breast milk. He recalled how thankful and happy she was the last time he brought her the baby formula.
Of course it isn’t only in Myanmar. Malaysia has its share of poor people too. I read about this couple with four children in Kuching who live in an old, abandoned warehouse, surviving on wild vegetables and snails. Yes. Snails as in escargot to me and you. But the hoi polloi variety.
Why are some people so poor when others have so much?
How can there be so much of unfairness in this world?
How can some people live in such extreme poverty?
How can people in the 21st century live like this when in other parts of the world, there’s an all together different planet of happenings? Like some people who eat themselves to obesity and then start suing fastfood companies because of their own greed?
The extremes of this world perturb me sometimes.

4 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Life?”

  1. The problem of suffering is one of the most difficult to answer in Christian Apologetics. I take comfort in Revelation 21:4.
    In that day, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain”

  2. Being from Myanmar (Burmese, it says, on my certificate), I have also heard of how some of my far-off relatives there are suffering. And I think to myself, ‘How wise it was for my fore father to swim here (not really, but in a boat that almost sank) from Burmese to Penang. My father had me here, in PJ, and I am now with everything that I need to live an OK life….while the rest of the not-so-lucky people there are still….well, there.
    But they have their good points as well. Even when living in poverty, they, most of the time, live in satisfaction, contentment and togetherness. I don’t know if they are happy or not, but I sure do hope they are….

  3. hi lcs: yes, it is a difficult question to answer. but for me, i never stop asking. i don’t know whether that’s good or bad.
    hi marsha: am glad your forefather had the foresight to come to Malaysia. or else i wouldn’t have known you! of course, one would not know what one misses if one hasn’t experienced it – like Internet, or even having the freedom to go and buy baby formula for one’s kid. when they get these things, it seems almost like manna. well, it is true of course that their simple life may be happy and contented.

  4. when i was young, i asked my father why grandfather came to malaya instead of siam? anwyay, i m sure every place within their boundaries has their share of poverty…but happiness may not be parallel with it. more often than not, people is happier with less…


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