Lessons Learned from Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi-India-Politics

Recently I have been learning about and fascinated by Aung San Suu Kyi, the human rights activist and politician from Burma (now Myanmar). Suu Kyi has spent 15 years in total under house arrest by the military-junta who have had government control since 1962. She was released in 2010 and was able to physically accept her Nobel Peace Prize, which she won in 1992 while imprisoned. This woman, known simply as “The Lady” in Burma, both frustrates and mesmerizes me.

After watching her Nobel acceptance speech, I was left disappointed. It was like I had an itch that was left unscratched. I pressed play and sat back in anticipation for the moment where her voice broke and the pain of the past 21 years would come flooding forward. I was practically weeping for her while I waited for her to join me. I waited and waited as she spoke of the seven sufferings, her experiences and her undying hope of a peaceful world.

I waited for the moment where she displayed that maybe it all was worth it, if only just for this honourable prize of a lifetime. The moment where she thought of her children, now grown, that she had missed out on while imprisoned in Burma. Or her late husband, whom she couldn’t say goodbye to when he died in England in 1999. All I wanted was one sweet tear.

The speech was good, excellent in fact. But no tears were shed. Not one crack of her strong but delicate voice. No emotion, just poise, elegance and passion.

The itch that is still itching is my overstimulated love of emotion and drama, and I was expecting a lot of it while watching this speech. But all I got was an extremely humble woman with a stiff upper lip, who believes her life purpose is to see her homeland Burma as a free country after being under military rule for the past 50 years.

No fuss. No drama. Just a woman on a mission.

These days with media and social networking, we are constantly displaying ourselves. Looking for affirmation. Creating drama. Yet one woman sat inside her home for 15 of 21 years and played piano, meditated and peacefully opposed the oppression of the military. She is a quiet and demure social activist in character, but she means business. She will not rest until there is peace. Her country comes first and sadly this has meant her family has come second, of which I am sure there are repercussions. And I think that’s what keeps her grounded; she had to sacrifice a lot and though she may not regret her choices, she isn’t completely proud either.

There’s a Hollywood film about Suu Kyi, called “The Lady”. I’ve added it to my Lovefilm rent list but after watching the trailer, I’m afraid it’s been “Hollywood-ified”. Her life has been made into a tear jerking motion film, when she doesn’t see it that way. I know she doesn’t, after listening to her on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, as she politely corrected the host any time her situation was presented as sad or unfortunate.

Anyone could argue that it is dramatic, that it’s a tragedy. But Aung San Suu Kyi will go to her grave saying is that she has made a choice every day for the past 24 years to fight for her country’s freedom, whatever the cost. There’s no tragedy, just her choice, and those are her very words from an interview. Simple.

I am both inspired and perplexed by this woman and what we can learn from her. The itch is still there, as someone that thinks family should come first and can’t completely understand her decisions, because I don’t have a whole country depending on me for freedom. It doesn’t mean for a second that I don’t respect her.

My middle name is Drama-Queen and our generation feed off heightened emotions. But Aung San Suu Kyi is the perfect example of someone who has put her head down and got on with it. Maybe we need to do the same, whatever we are doing or working on or believing for. Whether we are trying to save the world or our friend or ourselves, we should just get on with it. Without making a hoo-ha or trying to draw attention to ourselves or our good deeds, and without updating our Facebook status or Twitter feed. Just do it.

But before you do, make sure you share this  post with your friends on social media, yeah?!

Where do you stand, on either Aung San Suu Kyi or my view of our drama loving culture? Do you think we could learn from this woman?


The Truth About Love [according to me]

We all love the idea of love. The word triggers pretty thoughts and the word rolls off our tongues pretty easily:

“I love Ryan Gosling, he is so fit!”

“I love strawberries, they’re delicious”

“I love my Mum, she’s the greatest”

 “I’m in love with you”

We all need to be told that we’re loved, sometimes we may struggle to say it but ultimately love is a good thing to us. It offers hope, restoration, freedom and encouragement.  But like all truly good things love isn’t always easy; in fact sometimes it’s really hard.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The above scripture sets a pretty high standard of what love is, and I think it’s safe to say we all fall short. For me, it is so hard to forget; it keeps no record of wrongs’. I like to remember people’s mistakes – people that I supposedly love – and use it as ammo when I need to. Yep, that’s what it’s like to be loved by me (at times) and I’m sorry if I have ever done that to you. If I haven’t said it outwardly, it has probably been simmering inwardly and it may have even affected our relationship. Again, I’m sorry, I’m working on it.

What this part of the scripture is really saying is that Forgiving = Forgetting. This baffles and challenges me to my very core because it goes against my grudging nature. So maybe to forget those wrongdoings I needed to forgive them, even the smallest of them. Funny how I never thought they were big enough to forgive, yet I can’t seem to forget them. Because I haven’t forgiven. But how much has Christ forgiven me for my wrongs? He wipes my slate clean every single day. Who am I to hold so much against people that I love?

I may not be able to forget in my head, but if I choose to I can certainly forget in my heart. When we let go of that emotional memory we let go of the anger and sadness too.

Love, which is meant to bring hope and freedom, can bring so much pain because it is loving despite flaws (and worse). I’ve seen it first hand with people close to me, I’ve seen love bring hope to the receiver and pain to the giver. This is either because the receiver keeps on taking without giving back, or because the receiver is what I have judged as undeserving of love. Which I’m realising is pretty harsh now that I’ve written it down. WHO am I to judge who deserves love? None of us do and all of us do. We all need love, regardless of how deserving we are of it. Hopefully it does eventually change the receiver’s heart and they begin to give back, but that’s never why we love in the first place. We love because we were created to.

To be honest, I really struggle with this; with loving imperfection. Because if truth be told, I only expect to be loved when I felt I’ve done enough to deserve it, when I’ve earnt it, when I’ve deemed myself worthy. Yet in reality that’s not how it works, and though I continue to fail, the people in my life still love me. How? Why? Instead of just accepting it and loving others the same way, I wrestle with trying to understand it. That’s the stunning and downright haunting thing about love, especially Christ’s love; we don’t deserve it or always understand it because it’s too damn big for us to comprehend.

My mum always said when I was younger ‘I love you, but not because you’re a good girl’. Fast forward more than a decade and I am still grappling with this concept of love. Except that it isn’t a concept and maybe that’s where my problems lie, in this one tiny truth: Love isn’t meant to be understood.

Love sees your best, forgives your worst, and always believes in you. I may not be able to get my head around it, but I don’t have to. I just need to get my heart around it.

What do you love and hate about love? What do you struggle with the most? Please share in the comments and help me know that I’m not alone!

Thoughts, Life & Contentment

Thoughts have a snowball effect. Think negatively and you will continue to think negatively until you arrive at a pretty depressing conclusion about your situation or life. Think positively and you will be at peace, happier, and a lot more enjoyable to be around. You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective; which changes your attitude; which changes your thoughts; which changes your actions; which changes your LIFE! I know right, wowzas.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I don’t have. I don’t have a flat, I don’t have my own laptop, I don’t have my own iPod (as I write this I am realising how much of my boyfriend’s stuff I have claimed…eek!), I don’t have a good enough phone, I don’t have enough clothes….. blah blah BLAH. It’s all absolute rubbish.

Heck, we all don’t have enough when you think about it. And if I did have all of the above, it would be ‘I don’t earn enough, I don’t have a house, I don’t travel enough,’ etc. If we choose to be, we can be constantly ‘without’. But it’s a simple turn around of thinking that can change everything.

Because what I do have is so much more than what I don’t have. I have so much to be thankful for, but I have been overlooking that because I am too preoccupied with what I don’t have. That is not the way I want to live my life! No way. Plus, I personally believe that all blessing comes from God (though I know that may not the case for all who are reading this). And why would God want to bless you with more if you don’t even appreciate what you do have?

So, which snowball do you want in your mind, and controlling your life… A big ball of frustration and unhappiness because you aren’t getting what you want out of life? Or peace and joy, because you are seeing all the good in your life and enjoying each day? Of course, there are hard times. But you can still be calm amongst a storm. If you start off looking at the half glass full, soon the glass will be overflowing! Your mind is a battlefield. Choose life and hope.

Contentment. Its such a beautiful thing. There are moments when I am completely and utterly content with life, and it is the best feeling on earth. Other times, I have to choose to be content with a situation, because it’s easy to get down when every day feels the same. Sometimes you have to seek contentment out, otherwise you will only feel it at very intermittent times in your life. It can easily be found, but you are at the heart of the search.

Just a thought, take it or leave it.