A single slender woman who terrifies an army of generals
By Badri Raina, ZNet, Aug 16, 2009
Thomas Carlyle, that prophetic voice of the 19C, delineated in Heroes And Hero Worship (1841) what he thought were types of world-historical individuals.
Among them he projected Cromwell as a type of hero whose strength lay in a species of obdurate conviction that had no need of any flamboyant oratorical skills.
Two other figures from the 20C/21C spring to mind as further exemplars of the type, namely, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi.
No more true metaphor for them than the grass, which Whitman called the “handkerchief of the Lord,” fusing in a magnificently visionary way god with democracy.
The grass, it grows everywhere, however you trample on it. In its fecund unendingness, it symbolizes and manifests the will-to-life itself, and in its undefeatably cussed humility, it is the spirit of universal freedom and common democracy that refuse to be quelled.
And, as any good gardener knows, the more you cut the more it grows.
Which may be why the sensible British did not heed Hitler’s counsel in 1938: When Chamberlain went to reason with him, he mentioned Gandhi and how troubled the empire was by him.
Uncomprehending, the Fuhrer asked, “why don’t you shoot him?”
And had they done so, nothing might have brought about so early a collapse of the empire—and in predictably brutal ways.
Clearly, the two-penny tyrants in Burma who strut about in a prison of their own making—if Suu Kyi cannot leave her house, the Generals may not leave Burma, for they are reviled everywhere, including in those parts of the world who have shabby deals with them—have understood that much.
Thus, for their own wretched safety, they desist from doing that Hitler on her. So, we ask, are they winning or losing Burma? Losing, we think. And over that knowledge, Suu Kyi’s smile arches like that of angels, seeing far far beyond the events of any single day, beyond even her own life.