Authenticity in politics – an Asian model for democracy
Fifteen years under house arrest has been used by Daw Suu to develop a spiritual way of life that is the core of her being. As others have observed, this is why she always talks of a ‘revolution of the spirit’. Her insistence on non-violence and non-confrontation, compassion and equality are not mere adjuncts to her political stance, they are part of her spiritual path.
During an interview for his book, The Voice of Hope, author Alan Clements asked Daw Suu – - Aung San Suu Kyi – what she considers to be at the centre of her movement, her answer came in a flash, … “Inner strength.”
When asked what her greatest struggle was, Daw Suu replied: “It’s always a matter of developing more and more awareness, not only day to day, but moment by moment. It’s a battle which will go on the whole of my life”. Her greatest aim she told Clements, was ‘purity of mind’.
Always anxious to diffuse the focus on herself within the democratic movement in Myanmar, it is her humility born out of experience which the people of Myanmar hold onto for strength.
Journalist Madeleine Bunting takes the concept of authenticity in politics to another dimension by discussing Aung San Suu Kyi’s view of democracy as being not only ‘a set of institutions, laws and political processes (but) also a quest of the individual spirit, the struggle to free oneself from greed, fear and hatred and how they drive one’s own behaviour.’
Bunting observes that … “(Daw Suu) lays out an understanding of freedom which owes more to Buddhism than western philosophy and, in so doing, injects a radical new meaning into an abused ideal (that the West has the copyright on the Enlightenment). Daw Suu is simultaneously quietly challenging western hubris and offering her global audience a new interpretation. She has a radical message for western politics steeped in a technocratic managerialism and obsession with presentation: that the personal spiritual struggle cannot be stripped out of politics.”
As they move steadily forward it is the Asian democracies with their spiritual practices intact and belief systems widely accepted that have the opportunity to bring a new and meaningful perspective to politics. And, there are more mighty victors waiting to join the force for good.
Seeing Daw Suu in her continuing quest to bring peace to the people of Myanmar I cannot but help recall when I, like millions of people around the world, watched Nelson Mandela in 1990 stride away from twenty seven years of solitary confinement – the only thing I knew then about Nelson Mandela was that he was the victim of a terrible injustice. But when, later that day, he spoke to us about forgiveness and reconciliation for those who had caused his suffering, I felt that he was anything but a victim! Mandela had emerged a mighty victor. His bitter experience and the message of hope coming out of his experience, generated a global recognition of a Force for Good. If there had been an election for World President, Nelson Mandela would have been a shoe-in!
For me, Manmohan Singh, Barack Obama, Bank Ki Moon, Leymah Gbowee, Wen Jiabao, all strike the same note of clarity, the same sense of humility coming from experience. Their empathy for others feels genuine and sets them apart from the ego-driven partisanship which we have come to associate with political leadership. Whether I agree with their views or not, they warrant my attention because they speak from the heart not with an eye for scoring media points with a well crafted sound bite or a cynical dig.
Thus it is with Daw Suu as she takes her democratic movement forward, unhesitatingly. Bringing authenticity into politics and depositing an Asian model for democracy.