Wednesday, February 23, 2011


a. Comparing and Contrasting Mohamed Bouazizi and "The Burning Monk"

The self-burning of Mohamed Bouazizi and "The Burning Monk," Thich Quang Duc, are extremely sad events. At a first look, it seems that both of these cases are very much the same. However, there are distinct differences between them, too.
One similarity between the self-burning of Bouazizi and Thich Quang Duc is that both were politically based on not having the rights that we, as Americans, are allowed. Both violate our first amendment because Bouazizi wanted a freedom of speech (so that he could speak his mind and be listened to about losing his scale and not being able to have the dignity that he deserved), and Duc wanted to have the freedom of religion (so that he could practice Buddhism and the Buddhist flag would again be raised). Also, they both burned themselves in the public eye. This was most likely because they were fighting for a cause that they wanted noticed, and/or both wanted show their exasperation. Duc had burned himself at a busy intersection in Saigon, Vietnam, in the middle of the road. Bouazizi did his self-burning in the middle of the traffic that was next to the government building. Plus, both of the events ended up overthrowing leaderships. Bouazizi's overthrew the regime of Zine Ben Ali, while Duc's burning overthrew the Catholic Diem regime.
Something that stood out as a unique difference between these two events is the fact that one died immediately (Duc) and one died days later (Bouazizi). In addition, Bouazizi's self-burning happened in 2010, but Duc's self-burning happened in 1963. Even though both of the burnings caused a bit of an uproar, Bouazizi started a revolution and Duc did not receive as much attention as Bouazizi. Also, Duc had planned his self-immolation for a while, prior to the actual day, and Bouazizi's came out of anger that occurred from a woman's slap and a stolen scale.

b. My Personal Thoughts

The first thing that comes to my mind when looking at both of these topics is that we (meaning citizens of America) are extremely fortunate to have our Constitution and Bill of Rights. If Bouazizi and Duc had lived with a written constitution and bill of rights, their self-immolations most likely would have not happened, due to them being allowed to exercise their freedoms of speech and religion. That thought also makes me sad because they gave up their lives for something they truly believed in, and I wish that it wouldn't have had to go that far for them to be able to prove their points. In addition, it appears to me as if they felt such a deep desperation for these rights they couldn't have, and that maybe that was the reason they wanted to burn themselves, in order to express how they felt about what they were fighting for, as well as how much it meant to them. Also, the difference in time periods strikes me, mainly because rights are still not allowed in certain places where people definitely deserve and should have them; it just seems unfair to me.

c. A Poem That Conveys My Thoughts

Desperation by Darren Whites
Desperation comes flying out
Of the darkness, latching on
Taking hold, sucking out,
The life from me.
I try to break free;
There is no way.
Desperation is too strong,
Sucking me down into a
Whirling pool of death.
At the last moment,
I pull free swimming,
Swimming to my freedom
Breaking the hold Desperation has on me.

d. Questions for the Class to Discuss

1. What was the most significant part of the story of either the self-burning of Mohamed Bouazizi or "The Burning Monk"?

2. Do you believe that there was a better way for Bouazizi or Duc to deal with these problems, or do you think that was their only option, considering their predicament?

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