Excerpts of Suu Kyi’s Oslo speech
“Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. There was the house which was my world, there was the world of others who also were not free but who were together in prison as a community, and there was the world of the free. Each was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe. What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. This did not happen instantly, of course, but as the days and months went by and news of reactions to the award came over the airwaves, I began to understand the significance of the Nobel Prize. It had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community. And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten.
“The French say that to part is to die a little. To be forgotten too is to die a little. It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity. When I met Burmese migrant workers and refugees during my recent visit to Thailand, many cried out: `Don’t forget us!’ They meant: `Don’t forget our plight. Don’t forget to do what you can to help us. Don’t forget we also belong to your world.’ When the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to me they were recognizing that the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world. They were recognizing the oneness of humanity. So for me receiving the Nobel Peace Prize means personally extending my concerns for democracy and human rights beyond national borders. The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart.”
“The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. … And for what? Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer. Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.
“We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognized not only as desirable but necessary. I am fortunate to be living in an age when the fate of prisoners of conscience anywhere has become the concern of peoples everywhere, an age when democracy and human rights are widely, if not universally, accepted as the birthright of all. … If I am asked why I am fighting for democracy in Burma, it is because I believe that democratic institutions and practices are necessary for the guarantee of human rights.”
“Over the past year there have been signs that the endeavors of those who believe in democracy and human rights are beginning to bear fruit in Burma. … Steps towards democratization have been taken. If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith. … Burma is a country of many ethnic nationalities and faith in its future can be founded only on a true spirit of union. Since we achieved independence in 1948, there never has been a time when we could claim the whole country was at peace. We have not been able to develop the trust and understanding necessary to remove causes of conflict. … We hope that cease-fire agreements will lead to political settlements founded on the aspirations of the peoples, and the spirit of union. My party, the National League for Democracy, and I stand ready and willing to play any role in the process of national reconciliation.”
“The peace of our world is indivisible. As long as negative forces are getting the better of positive forces anywhere, we are all at risk. It may be questioned whether all negative forces could ever be removed. The simple answer is no. It is in human nature to contain both the positive and the negative. However, it is also within human capability to work to reinforce the positive and to minimize or neutralize the negative. Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation. Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavors to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.”
“Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that they are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.”
“Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.”
“When I joined the democracy movement in Burma, it never occurred to me that I might ever be the recipient of any prize or honor. The prize we were working for was a free, secure and just society where our people might be able to realize their full potential. The honor lay in our endeavor. History had given us the opportunity to give of our best for a cause in which we believed. When the Nobel Committee chose to honor me, the road I had chosen of my own free will became a less lonely path to follow. For this I thank the committee, the people of Norway and peoples all over the world whose support has strengthened my faith in the common quest for peace.”
Excerpts taken from Today Online (link here)
Why do you think the ‘wider community’ has chosen to celebrate and honor Suu Kyi’s efforts? What does it reflect of current thinking about what Suu Kyi refers to as the ‘guiding star’ that ‘leads to our salvation’?