With Abundance Thanks

We are around the New Year period, a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Of course, this is also a time to be thankful for, and this is exactly how I am feeling. Myanmar people have never been shy to express our gratitude; we are used to showing thank in everything and anything. Adam Smith, a 16thcentury heathen from Scotland, foolishly said that people are motivated by self-interest and this self-interest is a force behind how the society becomes better off; I wonder how lucky he is for not growing up in the Myanmar, otherwise he’d had realised how misguided he were.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

  

Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations” 

On the contrary to what Adam Smith said, in Myanmar everything is done with goodwill, and reciprocated with gratitude, consequently since people cannot survive without the many goods and services produced by the others, we end up thanking everyone in addition to purchasing in money. So we are thankful to farmers for growing crops we eat, to teachers for going medieval to kids out of passion to teach, to doctors for treating the sick even at times their treatment and attitude is outright rude, and most importantly to the army for shielding us from all the dangers of the world. These professions I described here are merely examples and not in any way exhaustive list. In reality, it is every profession here (yes, every single one) who believes that they deserve reverence and gratitude of the public for things they chose to do willingly.  

So, with being worthy of appreciation comes righteous sense of entitlement and guardianship for doing a job one chose to do. Teachers and doctors become highly intolerable to any form of change, citing how essential their services are, employees come to think their employers cannot survive with them, etc. Again, the almighty army, from the habitual shielding of us from perils literally come to take the role of country’s parents. Even so, being a nation based on gratitude, we all agree to all of those and keep on showing humble appreciation to everyone.

A generally grateful person is difficult to find someone to be thankful for as a special occasion. I contemplated that it has to be someone who is truly special, free from mundane thanking we offer every -second, it has to be someone who truly enriches to our lives to the max, and someone who does not get enough appreciation. So I thought.. thought.. and thought. Until I got an epiphany. As a super-religious country, the best deeds towards the society is someone who gives the people a chance to do good merits, and I just know the kind of people who gives people just that and universally underappreciated. I found the perfect folks.

I am talking about the beggars. Yes, the beggars who live of money or food we give away. By taking money from us without returning any material goods or services, they are returning the most valuable goods of all, a spiritual one, a ticket to good afterlife. However, what they return is not merely spiritual alone, it also makes you feel good, it gives you happiness of doing good deeds, and happiness is the most precious thing while being alive. So, by not working and resorting to begging these martyrs are sacrificing their life as dignified working folks to provide the most valuable things to the public. Moreover, the beggars help our ego by giving one a chance to see how good our lives are by comparing ours with theirs even on a bad day. The benefits the beggars provide to the society are multiple-fold and way too much to get unnoticed. Last but not least, their working conditions are the probably the poorest and since harsh working condition argument is the cornerstone of why a profession should be thankful for, the beggars pass this test too. 

So, in this time to be thankful for, I thank to the beggars, without whose begging endeavours our society would have collapsed long since.

Thant Zin    

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