Thursday, March 27, 2008

Merit Maker Or Bird Lover?


The concept of merit-making is a prevalent one in Buddhist societies, with the main idea being that if you do something nice for another living creature, that kindness will come back to you. Other cultures have different terms for it, and this concept can often be seen when people perform small, ritualistic acts of kindness for animals.

Yangon, the capital and largest city of Myanmar (also known as Rangoon, Burma), is a slightly dingy city with a subdued, melancholy air to it. This is surprising, because unlike other Asian cities, Yangon is full of greenery, with trees, bushes, and grass springing up just about everywhere you look.

Amidst the grime, citizens have to look for creative ways to brighten up their moods, and many have found that purchasing bird seed from roadside vendors and feeding the city's large pigeon population is one way to achieve this.


Pigeons aren't the most popular creatures in the world; in fact, they probably rank just a few notches above rats in the minds of most people, and they've even been referred to as 'rats with wings'. But that doesn't seem to matter to this woman, who appears deeply engrossed in her task of offering some small comfort to her winged friends. Is she making merit, or simply a bird lover?

It would actually be quite funny to see peoples' reaction if someone were to try this in downtown New York. Just imagine a New York cop's reaction to someone throwing birdseed to a gathering group of pigeons. It'd be something like "Whadya think you're doing, this ain't Disney World, now get the hell out of here!"

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