September 26, 2007

My First Cause

Let me tell you how I learned that all might not be right with the world. Back in high school for Academic Decathlon our super-quiz subject was called "Documents of Freedom" a collection of letters, speeches, and well documents that had advanced the cause of freedom in the world. We would study the texts, the history behind them and so on. Declaration of Independence, Letters from a Birmingham Jail, something from Gandhi etc, etc. In the collection was a speech from Aung San Suu Kyi a democratic activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner in Burma. She has fought for years against a military dictatorship in her country, which the junta has renamed Myanmar. What shocked me at time was that unlike Lech Wałęsa, the American Revolution and the rest of the people we were studying, Suu Kyi had not won. When you study history in the mid-1990s, the glow still on the end of the Cold War, you get a sense that freedom really was on the march, that dictatorships were doomed to fail and that the good guys pretty much always won in the end. In fact, despite winning an election overwhelmingly and support for her cause worldwide, Suu Kyi remains under house arrest and the generals remain in charge: a situation that has remained unchanged ever since I learned about it some 13 years ago.

So I note today the growing protests in Burma, led by Buddhist monks, the coming crackdown, international pressure, hope and fear. Hope for change and fear of backlash. And nothing to do but watch.

UPDATE: We do call it Burma. James Fallows explains why.

1 comment:

larry said...

The problem with Burma is that it is not sitting on a treasure trove of oil. If it were, GWB would be surging there, spreading love and democracy with AK-47's.