Tag Archives: Aung San Suu Kyi

Dancing with speeches #18 Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent a life in exile and lost a lifetime waiting and working for change in her country. She drew on the spirit of her people and the practice of nonviolence to keep her focused on her desire for liberation from military rule. The epitome of grace under fire, Aung San Suu Kyi always appears with a flower in her hair, beauty inside and out, a poetic defiance against tyranny.

Fearlessness maybe a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’ – grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.

From Freedom for Fear speech, 1990.

The antidotes for fear are truth, justice and compassion and a relentless application of them in the deepest ethical application, even to the cellular level is a vocation for the bravest of souls.  To be brave with yourself first is the first step or perhaps we are just ‘half a shade braver’ as David Whyte suggests.  There is an invocation, a litany of invitations to go further with our truths and stop being delusional – the oppression and failure of human rights is down to us as well, those who are free, it is our privilege to act and address.  We are not separate from the equation, an unholy symmetry until all are liberated.  Fear is the order of the day where human rights are being violated and the stock exchange in fear is alive and well in our nations and in our own hearts.

The fear of betrayal and rejection in our every day lives, hold us to ransom, call out our terrorist traits, bring sabotage and conspiracy.  When there is darkness, and fog it maybe hard to find the sunlight to shine on us and purify our hearts and support our steps to courage born of vulnerability. The spark and flicker of the candle can be enough to hold on to, the half a shade of bravery might inspire others to be a little bit braver too. Never under estimate the smallest act of breaking open the ground for others to follow and add their weight to the ground – every collective action begins with one voice, one simple act.

The fears that kept our ancestors alive throughout the ages have disappeared, yet we are still afraid of the metaphorical mastodon and we haven’t necessarily made our fears as extinct as creatures they were designed to protect us from.  The deepest fear, Marianne Williamson says is fear of our own greatness. Imagine liberation from fear what wonders might be visible, what humanity might unfold and evolution be aroused.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Marianne Williamson

The fear of the other is alive and well in our time, in my country and the fear of a little one on the shores of our land seeking asylum speaks to me of an irrational fear. Speaking truth to power, working for justice and making compassion visible will be both inoculation from further fear mongering and a cure. Freedom from fear is a daily practice and discipline.

Arriving for conference Credit:http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/aung-san-suu-kyi-tells-myanmars-peace-stakeholders-to-prepare-for-conference-04272016163531.html

Arriving for conference to prepare for government Feb 2016 Credit

Dancing with Speeches #15 Oscar Romero

On March 20 2018 Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero was murdered while celebrating Mass. He broadcast speeches and homilies on the radio and one of his most famous became immortalised by the Hollywood treatment in a movie about his life. This speech called on the solders of the army to stop the repression because they were the brothers killing their own. The speech below is the actor Raúl Juliá recreating (in English) this speech.


To call each other to account, to recongise we are all connected and our liberation is bound to our brothers and our sisters is a call to action every day.It makes no difference if we are in the the informal theatres where terrorism and guerrilla make their home or the clinical formality of technologically driven machines and sophisticated weaponry – the result is the same – war is made.


The word war comes from the late Old English werre, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French guerre, from a Germanic base shared by worse. It is our worst selves on display when we make war. Far from the battlefields our taxes are used to build, deploy and send bodies to zones where the only outcome will be destruction. Romero called on the men in the army, it was a direct appeal, not to the chiefs or the captains or colonels, but to the foot soldiers those on the front line enforcing repression through the potent currency of fear.


Communities glue together the self preserving elements of fear and sometimes rise up to remove repression from their lives, but rarely is this done without a leader – I think of Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi. Antidotes to repression are built in movements for change, but if we are not careful, just like the frog in the jar as the water gradually rises in temperature, many societies don’t notice before it is too late and the repression is in full swing. To call out repression early and often is left to the prophets and the poets, the story tellers and the singers. The voices are the first ones to be silenced or to go underground. All the more reason for those with access to microphones to speak into the public space and follow Romero’s example, to name and claim the people as brothers and sisters, one family, naming the divide and relentlessly seeking union.


In psychology the notion of repression is the rejection from consciousness of painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses. The acts to bury and hide and cover up what we don’t want to face, making the often difficult and tortured journey to rise to the surface and come into plain view, unfettered. This is an ugly and painful trip from the toxic dump into the light if liberation calls. Romero’s voice was extinguished as other before him and many more to come will be too, but the prophet will not be silenced and is the ultimate guide to release the sticky mess of quagmire where repression is fed by fear.


The ones who take their voice to the streets and speak up are our psychologists dragging what we don’t want to face into the light and sadly it is inevitable that along the way there is collateral damage, there are those who get radicalized (on all fronts) and those who find their home on the edges or in exile.


Perhaps we take an examen of consciousness in the tradition of Romero’s spirituality:

Where is repression making an appearance in my world?

What repression am I stopping?

Where did I experience liberation today?

What holds me back?

What sets me free?

People carry a picture of the late Archbishop Romero during a march ahead of the 34th anniversary of his assassination in San Salvador

(RNS1-feb3) People carry a picture of late Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero during a march ahead of the 34th anniversary of his assassination in San Salvador on March 22, 2014. For use only with RNS-ROMERO-POPE, transmitted on February 3, 2015, Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jessica Orellana