Calming Tempers

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Kyi explains how she calms her temper when work gets too chaotic.

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Q:  These days I have been wondering whether you feel frustrated and depressed because of the complicated political responsibilities you have to face. When you feel frustrated and depressed, what do you do? When you get frustrated and feel that things are not going well, do you get upset and scold and shout at the people around you? This question came up because I have been reading a book about Gen. Aung San’s [Aung San Suu Kyi’s father’s] journey in life.

A:  I think you must have read the speech where my father said that when one’s work becomes too chaotic, one becomes short-tempered. I do become short-tempered when my work gets too chaotic. To calm my temper, I read, play the piano, or tell my little dog—with a smile—how mean and “sticky” people are. I also practice meditation regularly to calm my nerves.

Q:  I think that we Burmese people need to be responsible and have the courage to take responsibility. What do you think the Burmese people need to do to have the mindset to be responsible and have this courage? I would also like to ask you to tell us in what way we can cooperate and help you.

A:  First, one must always have in mind how important it is to have the mindset to be responsible. One that thinking is embedded in one’s mind, one must begin to consider how to be responsible. And even if it is not possible to overcome fear, one must try to do so slowly, step by step. No matter how difficult something is, it will become easier with practice.

Q:  If we look at the history of South Africa, the oppressive government led by white President de Klerk conducted negotiations with black leader Nelson Mandela by releasing him from prison after incarcerating him for many years. After that, in the 1994 elections, the African National Congress (ANC) party overwhelmingly won, and in the end Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa. Can we assume that Burma has now arrived at the same historical moment?

A:  Although it may seem that there are similar situations between our two countries, in fact there are a lot of things that are different, as our two countries are dissimilar in many ways. Instead of comparing the present situation in Burma with that of South Africa in 1994, we should take the lessons of how both sides in South Africa worked hard and persevered to overcome the difficulties encountered during the negotiations conducted from 1990 to 1994, and we should try to realize the hopes of our people.

Q:  President U Thein Sein invited Burmese journalists to attend his first press conference in Bali, Indonensia. What do you think of that? By giving such a press conference, is he giving recognition to the press, or is he making use of the journalists?

A:  Meeting with the press is a good thing. We also meet with the press all of the time, and through the press we provide information both to those inside the country and those outside the country on the NLD’s policies and the work that we do. This is normal practice in a democratic society.

Q:  I live in the Maha Chiang area [of Thailand], but I have come to live here in Bangkok because of the floods. At a time like this, when all of the Burmese people in Thailand are facing this problem, there has been no effective help from the Thai government. We do get help from the Burmese embassy, but there are problems in obtaining the necessary documents to return to Burma. In addition, some of us do not dare go back because there is a danger of being arrested by the Thai police on the way. If the Burmese embassy could provide us with the necessary documents to return, we would be able to go back temporarily. We are now unemployed and are facing a lot of problems, and in the long run this situation will become very difficult for us.

A:  The fact that the Burmese embassy is helping at this time must be seen as an improvement. I would like you all to try to urge the staff of the Burmese embassy to expedite the issuance of the necessary documents as soon as possible. At the same time, those people in Burma—including ourselves—who have heard the plight of the Burmese people in Thailand will try to help in any way we can.

Broadcast on Dec.9, 2011.


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