Red Carpet for Aung San Suu Kyi in Britain, but nobody is mentioning Nonviolence
“If you are feeling helpless help someone”. Words of wisdom from Burma’s icon of the struggle for Democracy. Long years under house arrest and some prison, but she refused offers to leave, as her detention was the best nonviolent strategy to produce change. Now everybody wants their picture taken with her but not much is said about her chosen methodology.
Aung San Suu Kyi well deserves all the praise, the admiration, the Honorary Degree from Oxford and the Nobel Peace Prize she received 21 years ago and only just now was able to collect. She will address Parliament and meet members of the Royal Family. She has met the Prime Minister and requested that if sanctions are lifted ethical investment should follow, obviously well aware that markets often do the opposite. She is indeed an icon of courage and commitment to her people.
And yet… in spite of the many inch columns she has attracted from mainstream Media, very little is mentioned of her chosen methodology: [Nonviolence](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ZlLd1fnxU). Or at best it is referred to as an aside, as something she likes because she is a Buddhist. Far from being a secondary issue nonviolence is central to the process in Burma (now Myanmar) thanks to Aung San and her relentless campaign. She could have left anytime she wanted, that was always on offer. But she knew that by staying, under house arrest, she was focusing the world’s eyes on her country, on the military, on the human rights violations and on the suffering of her people. She played awkward customer, like Nelson Mandela did, refusing to leave prison in exchange for capitulation (in his case refusing to renounce violence).
Buddhism may have played a part in her choice, but she studied Gandhi and many other leaders committed to nonviolence. She is the living example of the strength of nonviolence, for those who wish to present it as weak.
In fact, the only way to truly honour her would be for the establishment, the politicians, the rock stars, the rich and famous, so kin to have their picture taken with her, to commit to her methodology and make nonviolence the way to resolve all conflicts, present and future.