The Karen are the largest minority group in Burma, now known as Myanmar. For many years they have fought for autonomy from the Burmese government without much success. A ray of hope was handed them during British rule. But as in many cases the Brits used them, abused them, and then left them to die at the hands of Burmese militants after Burma gained it’s independance in 1948.
In 1962 a military coup disrupted the nation again. Ne Win, then commander of the Burmese army, set himself up as dictator. Then he set his armies against the Karen guerillas. The Karen National Liberation Army is outgunned and outmanned in their fight for freedom. The Burmese army has used enslavement, torture, rape and execution to subdue the rebel army.
Now 46 years later there are as many as two million people that have been displaced from their homes. Of these, 400,000 live in refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Unfortunately, for the Karen, Thailand is becoming increasingly impatient with their presence and the violence it brings to their borders. The United Nations has vowed to help relocate many of these refugees to western nations. The majority of these, 80,000 total, will be sent to the United States.
To date 14,000 Karen refugees have arrived on American soil. There are 17,000 more slated to arrived yet this year, if they haven’t already. Many have been able to learn English in the refugee camps in Thailand. Even with limited opportunity for education and advancement in the refugee camps this has been a very beneficial asset.
For the single adults and intact families it is easy for the relocation process started by the UN to proceed. Sadly, for orphaned children it is not such a happy and simple process. Even though in many cases the extended families of orphaned children cannot or will not care for them, the UN does not want to separate them. So there are many young and teenage boys and girls that would benefit from a foster family in the US that are left to fall between the cracks and potentially become the next victim of the Karen-Burmese conflict.
Is there any way for these poor people to find a real life? The relocation program is a small start in the right direction. Can the governments of this world really offer them a lasting solution? I contend that they cannot even though they may try. As with the children that are left behind due to technicalities the governments of this world are limited in their wisdom, reach and ability to really solve the root of the problem.
We learn at Jeremiah 10:23, “. . .To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” We can see from the experiences of the Karen how true the words of Ecclesiastes 8:9 are, “. . . man has dominated man to his injury.”
But will it always be doom and gloom for these peoples, the Karen and others like them earthwide? No. Even today there is a source for true hope and a true life that is beyond anything that this world and it’s governments can offer. The verses at Psalms 37:10, 11 and 29 so beautifully set out this marvelous prospect,
“10- And just a little while longer and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. 11- But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. 29- The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.”
Even their needs for homes and food will be taken care of. Isaiah 65:21-24 says,
“And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendents with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.”
As Americans, citizens of the most powerful nation in the world, we need to open our eyes to the plight of the people in the nations around us. Not everyone, even in our own country, can live and consume as we do. If there is any way that we can help them with time or money we should extend ourselves beyond our selfish little shells and do it. There really isn’t an excuse not to. We compose less than 5% of the world population yet we consume almost 90% of world resources. Whatever we do we must remember that the solution this system brings is temporary and that in the future lies a real life. Let’s try to make the waiting for that real life to materialize a little better by using our time, effort and monies, if we can, to give an opportunity to someone who really needs it.