The world is learning more each day of huge strides made in another “long walk to freedom,” this time in Burma, aka Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of this lengthy and surely ongoing struggle, links arms with King, Mandela, Gandhi and others who used nonviolent means to achieve many of their goals. Nonviolence wins over the long haul. I first learned of her in 1998 when I was in the audience for a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize Winners at the University of Virginia. Why was she under house arrest? Who is the monk speaking as her surrogate? The 1991 Award Recipient, still unable to accept the award—why was so little known of her? While writing The Philosopher’s Table, I got to know Suu Kyi much better by reading her books and speeches, watching news clips, listening to interviews. She is my model for the March chapter set in Burma entitled “Persistence and Grace,” a reader/diner/author favorite.
“I felt that being under house arrest was part of my job—I was doing my work” (The Voice of Hope). This endurance test lasted for Suu Kyi for almost two decades and included stints in Insein Prison. She refused release if it meant leaving Burma—she had work to do. Her work was and is leadership of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a rugged struggle against a brutal military dictatorship. What a glorious, nonviolent, almost unimaginable campaign for democratic reform! Her party wins big in the elections just held. You can read a bit about it here, but read multiple sources in this fast-paced, unfolding event: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977
Anyone, anywhere can use her approach to her work in their own lives—diffusing anger, refusing to be consumed by hate, finding persistence again and again despite difficulty. Here’s her 2012 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, at last: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-lecture_en.html
“I never thought of those two words together, persistence and grace,” a philosophizing diner stated, “until now.” Why not, Jerry? How else?