There are two recent news stories that are close to my heart and affecting me personally and many people are asking me my opinions on both. So, be-fore I go into that I will give you a little background.
I grew up in London, UK in the 1960s. We were a large, immigrant, mixed race family from an ex-British colony called Burma. Nobody seemed to have heard of Burma in those days or knew where it was so we were considered very exotic. Looking back on my childhood, it was a perfectly happy one. We had good schools, good amenities, good friends and I remember hearing only teasing racist remarks, which we put down to pure ignorance. In the 1970s, it became fashionable to be suntanned and we were envied for the colour of our skin.
I know that not everyone has memories of growing up free of discrimination or abuse due to their race and this can scar a person a great deal in later life. The childhood years (from 0 to 5) are the most important as your experiences and relationships play a crucial role in your wellbeing and development.
The movements today to promote tolerance, equality and anti-racism are to be praised for the impact they are making on people’s psyche and behavior. It will continue to take more years to ingrain and lots of healing from all sides.
On Royalty and a Military Coup
So back to the news stories causing a stir glo-bally. Yes, Meghan, first you. Prince Harry followed his heart and married the girl of his dreams who happened to be an American actor. The last time a royal married a divorced American it did not turn out so well either, (Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson). How can an American know or appreciate the sacrifice it takes to be part of a British institution that encapsulates tradition and stability during the turmoils of time. As The Economist says, “Being a royal is about serving an institution. It does not work for those who crave individual attention”. So true. The “job” requires total selflessness and “brilliantly bland” personalities who inspire many with their good works, duties and ambassadorial roles. (We are especially looking at you, Kate). Meghan didn’t get this memo.
I know many people, especially the younger generation and Americans, feel this is inhuman and unfair but royalty is in a different category to celebrity status. It is steeped in history and pomp. And the allegations of racism? Everyone agrees Meghan is beautiful, intelligent, and charitable. Yes, she is exotic and this usually breeds envy. Instead of calling out the ignorance and bias and proving her worth, she runs away to her comfort zone of Hollywood. Britain should not miss her. There I said it.
The other more tragic and serious news comes from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Burma will always be my country of birth and that of my pa-rents and grandparents. We had to leave because of a military coup that isolated the country for over 30 years and caused economic stagnation and untold suffering to its generous and kind-natured population. There was much hope when Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, finally won the democratic elections of 2015 although her powers were limited. Last month, another shortsighted and disastrous military coup made headlines all over the world thanks to the attention brought to it by a younger and more connected generation. The country need more than mere denouncements and criticism. Sanctions must be on a global scale and forceful diplomacy administered on the military leaders. The scenes of protests and violence on the streets are terrifying and upsetting. Personally, I am deeply saddened that my father of 96 years of age has to live through more devastating news coming from a country he once thought he would live in forever.
Today, we hope that we can bring our children up in a more enlightened world where racism, bigotry, terror and intolerance no longer play a part in their lives so they can grow up fulfilled and happy in any country in the world.