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One of the reasons for starting this blog initially was the fact that I was hoping to go on a year-end holiday to go and see Thailand and surrroundings in December. The blog would provide an entertaining space for me to put pics and commentary accrued over the course of the journey. That hope became a little bit more real some weeks ago when I managed to go and finally place the bookings for the tickets. The real reason for the trip is attending the World Universities’ Debating Championships in Bangkok – that drunken and blurred week of severe mental exertion and highbrow argumentation married to singing as you wander down foreign streets at night, oblivious to the general worries and cares of the world. Good times.

Watching the activities of some of Thailand’s neighbours, it reminds me just how lucky I am to live in a place where, despite the million things that we get wrong, don’t understand or choose to ignore because they are too uncomfortable to confront – we at least have a right to ask questions and speak our minds. It’s something my generation and those following increasingly take for granted, yet which didn’t exist at all just over a decade ago. Seeing just how foreign notions of inalienable human rights are to some of our fellow rulers in the world is a reminder both of how lucky we are to have such freedoms, and just how arbitrary it is that we should be afforded them.

Given the behaviour of our international personal freedoms role model,it would be prudent to remind ourselves that the freedoms we are rapidly getting a taste for are something that we should be prepared to watch hawkishly. We are, at the end of the day, only really ‘given’ them by virtue of the governments we elect and the policies and decisions whose logic we follow and acquiesce to. Unless we continue to pay suitable attention to how and why we make changes to our society (whether in specific laws or general shifts in societal opinion), we may well find ourselves sacrificing a bit more principle to pragmatic notions of ‘security’ and ‘necessity’ than we will be easily able to take back.

Good luck to you in Burma – I hope you prevail.