El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller

Posts from the ‘Politics’ category

A Fair World

I am by nature what some would consider “Leftwing”. My ideological tendencies do not come from some sort of perverse Stalinist fantasy or the belief that we should live an existence under some idiotic regime, as they do in North Korea. My beliefs in human welfare have nothing whatsoever to do with such horrifically distorted visions of Socialism, where the extreme ego of one dominates the masses. Quite the opposite in every way. I simply believe in COMPASSION and OPPORTUNITY for ALL!

I believe in the potential of all to be allowed to flourish unhindered. To do this, we need higher education to be available to ALL. For reasons I do not understand, but assume is decided out of fear of having an educated population, education still remains a privilege, which is frankly ridiculous! Everyone’s intellectual potential should be allowed every opportunity to flourish. This is good for the individual, good for the community, good for the country and good for the world. I wonder how much great talent has been stunted and lost because of poverty, lack of opportunity and elitist governance?

I also believe that we must evaluate accurately those most in need, and support them fairly, whilst allowing them dignity without prejudice.

ALL of us play in a funny fantasy of money; a socially accepted system of value, where bits of paper and metal are assumed to have worth, and that you get a share of this assumed equal to the hours of labour (life time before death) you put into your work. After this, we pay taxes for services to keep society functioning, like sewage, garbage collection, road and bridge maintenance and so on… All, we hope, paying for the parts that make society comfortable, ignoring conveniently war adventurism.

We trust in our governments (or blindly follow) in paying what we are told to pay. This would be fine, if the rule book were the same for everyone. Unfortunately, as we have learned all too well, the tax system in many countries is loaded in favour of the rich, where those that have are allowed to pay the minimum, whilst those that don’t have are royally shafted!

Socialism is about a fair game for all, and yes, whilst there have been so-called “socialist experiments” that have turned into nightmares through the last century, socialism as a source of hope that ALL can get a fair chance on our tiny rock in space still remains. WE must ALL work together to provide for those that don’t have. WE must ALL fight for the the protection of workers! WE must ALL work to protect the environment! WE must ALL fight for human rights! WE must ALL fight for liberty from intolerance! WE must celebrate our differences, whilst celebrating our shared humanity! We must provide security, education, healthcare and maximise the potential of EVERY human-being!

A Scene On Mae Sot Dump, ThailandPhotography by El-Branden Brazil

Civilisation or Barbarism?

What is in the realms of fantasy is the continuation of disregarding the poorest and neediest in society, while the rich get wealthier and the banksters get off without repercussions for their crimes. Enough is enough! Fairness, compassion and true responsibility for each other is not an extreme idea, it is the best idea for our survival as a species. Greed destroys and animalistic self-centered interests obliterate communities.

Civilisation, the very definition of social cohesiveness and coordination, is based upon our willingness to step beyond the needs of the individual and to learn to work as a collective for the greater good. This is social evolution.

Ploughing Fields Near Lake Inle, Burma
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Zeitgeist

In response to the results of unbridled capitalism, banksters, austerity, exploitation of workers and the unfair distribution of wealth, there is clearly a growing global movement that is shifting towards the left, seeking a fairer, compassionate and responsible world.

The rise of the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn is testament of the zeitgeist which the elites and the traditional media are desperately trying to stop, but failing. They may attempt to misrepresent and disparage these men, but the people are waking and can see beyond these crude smear tactics. The people can see that the world has been unfairly rigged in favour of the few, and they want real change and they want it now.

There will be those who scoff at such notions, holding onto redundant social structures. But, the inevitability and necessity for change will soon become apparent, even to those whose heads remain deeply imbedded in the ground. A much better, healthier world can be created for ALL.

Sun-Bleached
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Dilemma

Aung San Suu Kyi In Tokyo #3
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing mounting criticism about her silence, regarding the Muslim Rohingya, who remain one of the most persecuted communities in the world.  In light of the communal strife that started in 2012 and now with world attention focused upon the stranded boat people, some of whom are Rohingya, fleeing from persecution in Burma, she is feeling great pressure, as a symbol of human rights, to speak out about the Rohingya. Unfortunately, this also clashes with her other persona as a politician.

She finds herself in a deeply unenviable position, where she is trapped between how the Burmese see her and how the rest of the world sees her. For non-Burmese, she is (was) a bastion of human rights, so her silence is disappointing. For the Burmese, she is a politician, who they hope will be able to lead them out of decades of military rule towards real democracy. If she shows any sympathies for the plight of the Rohingya, she will instantly lose her base of supporters, because a vast number of Burmese are unwilling to show any compromise regarding the issue of Rohingya citizenship.

If DASSK becomes no longer a viable opposition leader, as a result of speaking out about the Rohingya, there will form a vacuum that no one can at this time fill, resulting in a further strengthening of the regime’s grip. What can she do? Either lose the respect of the international community or lose the respect of the Burmese? It would seem that her priorities remain at home, even if it means tarnishing her global image.

It is deeply regrettable that she finds herself in this position. It appears as if she has been out-maneuvered by the regime and blocked in.

Ideally, in keeping with her global image, it would have been preferable for her to have taken the human rights path, because there are too few such leaders of her status leading in this field, and the world desperately needs such lights. But, alas, idealism has very little currency in a country like Burma, where brutality and repression have dominated for decades.

Recently, a Burmese man informed me that the reason Aung San Suu Kyi has not spoken out about the plight of the Rohingya is because she shares the same opinion as the majority of Burmese. He was as certain of this, as are the human rights activists, who like to believe the opposite is true. In actual fact, none of us are privy to what her real opinion is on the matter. Either way, a lot of people are going to be disappointed, no more so than Aung San Suu Kyi herself.

The Oxymoron That Is “Buddhist Nationalism”

“Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.” – The Buddha

Buddhism and Nationalism cannot sit side-by-side. Nationalism is by nature the propagation and attempted sustaining of myths of identity.  Those who choose to be attached to such notions, do so in disregard of the true, absolute reality that everything is transient, impermanent and in constant flux, whether it be the individual, society, culture, traditions and even ethnicity. Everything changes in time.

Old myths get replaced by new myths, so what is the point in fighting against the inevitable? To do so is like trying to paint all the autumn leaves green, in the hope of deluding oneself that summer has not gone.

In contrast, a core part of the Buddha’s teachings is to accept impermanence. By doing so, we surrender ourselves to the natural processes, no longer grasping onto the unreal, which creates the friction that produces suffering. We should accept the impermanence of all phenomena, including the fleeting breath that is our own existence. There is nothing to grasp onto, and if we do, we are not grasping truth, just merely illusory phantoms of fancy, including our sense of self.

Instead of standing against the winds of change in all our delusional, egocentric glory, fighting for this or that ideology and national identity, it is far better to let go of all that, and become the wind itself, rather than be separated from it.  If we choose not to, we only postpone the inevitable.  The wind will always conquer in time.

Buddha As An Ascetic
Buddha As An Ascetic, Japan
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Cages Of Our Configuration

We are trapped within a variety of cages of complexity and ideas, to which some of us will remain forever shackled. Each cage is uniquely finessed for each inmate. Some are permitted to look out beyond the bars of their cage. Others have a dark curtain draped over their cage. Some have no bars on their cage, but stay within it, regardless. Others are chained to the cage, but have stepped outside of it, afraid to step back in. Occasionally, there are those who fly freely within and outside of the cages. And the rare ones get to soar beyond the room of cages itself towards complete, immaculate liberation…

A Japanese Bird Of Prey In Flight
Words & Photography by El-Branden Brazil