Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
(Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken)
Shan-Tai prayer month 2011, day 12
Shan people are spreading across the world in search of safety, education or opportunity. As they move out from their homeland they are encountering cultures, ideas, attitudes, religions and habits different to what they have known.
Even within Shan State change is marching on. Some of this is enforced at the point of a gun, some is dragged in by the sinful darkness of human nature, and some is embraced as helpful or desirable. For a culture with thousands of years of history the rapidity of change happening in one generation is confusing.
The structure of Shan society is based upon traditions and wisdom inherited from parents, grandparents and the entire village as a cohesive community. When the army, addiction, AIDS, avarice or alienation tear villages apart the individuals within it spill reeling into a world hostile to their ways. As they go further from home, the world seems more alien and traditional wisdom less relevant.
Yet it is clear that when Shan settle in new places and form communities again, they are hungry to rebuild broken traditions. However, Shan living in London or Canada must integrate into a rushed, consumerism-driven, materialistic culture with little concern for spiritual matters. There is no heritage for them to show the path, it is a road untravelled by their people. Do they let go of being Shan to fit into a new context? Or cling tenaciously to tradition?
seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV)
- Openness to the Gospel among the elderly and those in Shan State (Mark 4:20).
- The Shan, as they encounter new modern ways, to encounter God and desire Him more than the pleasures of this world (Philippians 3:8).