rice, ne win’s government, classrooms, public transportation…

“Tun Lin refers to the years under Ne Win as “the time of the green spectacles”. To look at something through green spectacles, he explained, is to look at a thing that is bad and be forced to think of it as good. The phrase has a curious history. The battles and bombs of the Second World War devastated Burma”s paddy fields and plantations, and by the time the Japanese army eventually occupied the country farmers found it hard to grow any edible produce. Even the farm animals and pack-horses refused to eat the parched grain, because of its unhealthy-looking white colour. The Japanese, fearful that the donkeys they needed to transport munitions in the mountainous terrain of Upper Burma would starve, came up with an ingenious solution. They fashioned spectacles out of green-tinted glass and wire and hooked them around the donkeys” ears. “The donkeys saw that the grain was green and happily ate it,” explained Tun Lin. “That”s what we had to do during our years in Burma”s Animal Farm. The entire nation was forced to wear green spectacles just like those donkeys.”

Emma Larkin, Finding George Orwell In Burma, 2005. (h.t)


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