”Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man’s self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”
– Freedom from Fear, Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Pro-democracy campaigner, Burmese politician, and mother, is an incredibly inspirational woman, and one who everyone should learn about. Her fight for democracy in Burma, which still hasn’t been completely achieved, has been arduous and resulted in her being put under house arrest twice, totalling 15 years. She was separated from her young children, from her dying husband – all to fight on behalf of all Burmese people for democracy and human rights.
Freedom from Fear is a collection of essays written by Aung San Suu Kyi. In the first edition her husband, academic Michael Aris, wrote an introduction and in the second edition Archbishop Desmond Tutu also wrote an introduction. These introductions are valuable essays in themselves and make the reader become completely absorbed before the book even truly begins. Every page of this book is meaningful.
The essays depict a number of subjects: from the Burmese people, even those from ethnic minorities who are otherwise looked over; modern Burmese history, allowing the reader to understand Burma and their history of fighting oppression – including colonisation. The essays also focus on democracy and the importance of rescuing the Burmese people from tyranny, which has been constant in the country’s modern history. The book teaches the reader the importance of freedom and how to fight for it peacefully and how democracy can be used as a tool for achieving peace.
Her writing is incredibly inspirational. Her passion shines through and the reader is able to completely understand her reasonings and why it is important for people to be free. You empathise with the Burmese people and you wish to join in their fight for freedom. The book defines who Aung San Suuu Kyi is, it explains to the world exactly what she is doing and why.
Regardless of who Aung San Suu Kyi is, Freedom From Fear is a great piece of writing. For those wishing to learn about democracy, or for those needing guidance to stand up for what they believe in, this book is a must read. Even current political leaders could do with reading it!
For anyone who wishes to learn more about Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011 saw the release of the film The Lady, a biopic of her life and work which is now available on DVD.
For up to date information, or if you wish to support Burmese people in their fight for freedom visit the charity Burma Campaign