25 September 2007

Burma, and the world's "golden future" - We can all be goldsmiths

We are a disgrace in the whole world because of our rulers. But we hope for a golden future. We hope for the freedom of Aung San Su Kyi. Kyi, Rangoon - Accounts inside Burma, BBC News

It's funny what a role model is. The Guardian's current cold-sell snail-mail letter appeal(I got one last week) to get new subscribers for their weekly, brags about Nelson Mandela reading it. He probably read about the new statue of him unveiled in London, but he didn't have to because he was there, soaking up the praise in person. Lately, Aung Sang Su Ki has been called 'Burma's Mandela', as a compliment to her. And if she were ever freed, it would be interesting to see whether that would prove to be true. I think not. I don't think she would be content to soak up praise and do nothing of substance. When I think of the power that Nelson Mandela has and hasn't used, it makes me want the world to talk of the meaning of disgrace, and the worth of role models.

What would Zimbabwe be like now, if he had cared?

Why did South Africa, of all countries, vote against the recent UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar, a resolution largely the work of 'retired' Archbishop Desmond Tutu "who has been in the forefront of human rights in Burma" and former Czech President Vaclav Havel? And when that disgraceful act of unsolidarity occurred, why was it not condemned by the world's most admired man?

Desmond Tutu, on the other hand, has been audacious enough to talk about the gap between rhetoric and reality in South African democracy, and in the world at large. He has criticised the racism that is the basis for the respect for the dictatorship of Zimbabwe – for respect it is, to have let it go on as it is.

At this moment, there are thousands of people who are risking their lives for the common good. Almost none of their names will never be known.

The only disgrace is when we waste our attention in hero worship while ignoring those who cannot change the disgraceful way they have to live, because they are too crushed.

Suu Kyi on the road, August 2000 (that long ago?)

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