From Two Dogs.

Anyone who has ever met and talked with me for more than 5-minutes hears my lecture on the value of travel. See America. However, once you have some grasp of our country, go overseas to any place. Pick a country...any country and go there. You will find the world to be the most excellent teacher.

Ask me about any country to which I have traveled, and I will tell you things that I never learned in books or the Internet about that place. That is true in spite of all the time I spend researching any of the places that I visit prior to leaving the States. Case in point, I thought that I knew a great deal about Myanmar/Burma before leaving. Here is a list of things about which I knew a great deal:

  1. The colonial period under British rule
  2. Aung San telling the Brits to leave Burma
  3. Aung San's assassination
  4. Aung San Suu Kyi life
  5. Military takeover in the early 60s
  6. The 88 Uprising
  7. The military's mass killings in the past half-century
  8. Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years
  9. The imprisonment and torture of Min Ko Naing for 15-years
  10. In addition, there have been thousands of less well-known protestors jailed or killed

I thought that I knew a great deal about Myanmar. Nonetheless, when I got there, I discovered that I had only scratch the surface about Myanmar and its people. Go to Critical Issues: Burma for an educational experience.

In the meantime, let me tell you what I learned on the streets of Yangon one day. At first glance, it might seem very unimportant. However, trust me. You will learn a lot about Myanmar and also your life.

In all my travels around the world, I will go to places, talk to people, visit historic places, and enjoy local foods. However, I will also just start exploring neighborhoods. I will walk through parts of various villages or towns and just look at whatever I see. While on one of these totally unscripted journeys in Yangon, this is what I saw.


I was just walking along a main street in Yangon not far from the Hotel East where Ann and I stayed while in that city. All that I was doing was looking around. I had no place that I wanted to see or visit. I just was exploring...and happened to notice two young dogs who were a couple of months old. They emerge from a drainage outlet that diverts rainwater from the buildings into the street. The street was a busy thoroughfare with at least four lanes. Any person wishing to get across this street would be well advised to go the corner and wait for the traffic light. If you did not, you would be risking your life, because motorcycles, cars, buses, and trucks sped along this Yangon artery.

Nonetheless, here are these two little dogs only feet away from the traffic...playing and enjoying their lives.

Puppies playing

I stood there taking their pictures while I thought and wondered about their futures and if they would make it into adulthood. I wished them well and went on, but I went on thinking about them.

What did I learn on the streets of Yangon from these two dogs? It was not long before I realized something that I had not learned prior to my actually being in Myanmar. This is what I learned in outline form. This applies to the people in Myanmar and us in America.

  1. The dogs did not know their station in life. That did not matter. They were living the life that they were given.
  2. Beyond living, the dogs enjoyed their canine existence. They had to forage for food on their own, but life was a blessing. They were not going to miss the moment and enjoyed it.
  3. The fact that they were still alive and not run over by some vehicle is to their credit. They were careful; they saw the dangers of living in their world. Nevertheless, they were not living in what some people living in Scotland call the cringe...the fear of what might happen in the future.
  4. These two little dogs were not living with any form of a cringe. This is true also for the people of Myanmar. Relative to the entire Western world, Myanmar is much like these two dogs. They are near the bottom of the economic ladder of life. The average income for a person from Myanmar is less than $100/month. In spite of this, the people of Myanmar are as happy even in their economic situation.
  5. Beyond the economic issues, these two dog are not living in a world that is free and democratic. They are also at the bottom of the political ladder precisely where the people of Myanmar are. However, neither the dogs nor the people have given up. They will live their lives hoping that tomorrow will be brighter for them or their future offspring.

As I took the final picture and was ready to continue my educational journey, I wished them luck and told them that I admired them. I heard one of them whisper in his sibling's ear, "Did you hear that American wishing us luck? Our lives are what have been dealt us. We will work to make it better. I hope he learns that from us."

Puppies near their house

Thanks, I got it. More importantly, I will not forget what I learned about you and Myanmar.

Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.

Scottish independence: Yes campaign

Scottish independence flag

Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.