Sunday, November 14, 2010

Burma - Three Years Later

Aung San Suu Kyi

My blog entries of September + October 2007 spoke of this woman.  

She has been under house arrest for the past 15+ years.  She and her political party won the 1990 public election in Burma, but the military dictatorship refused to give over its power.  They crushed the democracy movement and put her under arrest while the rest of the world watched, mute as usual.

Today, she is freed from house arrest.  She tells her people, "Do not give up hope." 

Desmond Tutu, another Nobel Laureate well-acquainted with the ravages of political abuse, had a wonderful statement.  He said, she is beautiful, demur and the model of integrity-- and the generals are so frightened of this unarmed woman with a belief in the equality of people.  She believes governments need to listen to all the people.  Freedom of speech.  Freedom from fear and repression.  

What she needs from us, now, is our total attention and our voices -- to keep her alive and to learn from her.  

I am looking for the Aung San Suu Kyi of my country.  Who among us has this integrity, belief and quiet persistence?  I want to believe:   "Do not give up hope."

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Where I vote

This is where I vote, in a quintessential New England meeting house. It has a huge circular wood stove, along with a few modern additions.  The wooden floor creaks.  We vote in small cubicles with plywood doors painted that battleship gray I remember so well from my childhood.  It's been on the Registry of Historic Buildings since 1998.

Inside, it's one big open space with a stage.  The windows have 16 panes on top, 12 on the bottom.  Soon they will be shuttered against winter wind and storms.

When we first moved to this town, 33 years ago, we attended town meetings here.  It felt like a direct link to those early patriots who had overthrown a colonial power and its abuses.  

We did the town's business during these meetings.  Residents met to argue about money, the road agent, the fire chief, and the schools.  Over pie and coffee, we talked mud and maple sap runs, face-to-face with people we may not have liked or agreed with; but we all lived in this town and shared in the responsibility of paying its services.

And, if you weren't there to vote, then the hell with you.  You didn't get to complain later.

Over the years, I have come to this building to vote on town matters, state and federal elections.  I've cast so many ballots for people or issues on the losing side.  I've had my celebrations, too, but somehow they seem short-lived.  

After last week's mid-term elections, I am back to fighting mist.  But, fight I will -- because I was there to be counted on the side of health care for all, women's rights, abortion rights, gay and lesbian marriage rights, social security and Medicare rights, immigration rights, global responsibility, turning around climate change by taking responsibility for our actions, job rights and labor unions, educational reform that builds on collaboration and children's real needs.  

I went and voted against the sordid influence of corporate money in elections.  Four billion dollars.  Stuff that into the deficit.  Send the shame of it back to the Supreme Court and   change the law.

I was there, I voted, and now I have the right and the responsibility to complain.  I don't care about political parties.

 I care about heart, values, courage, and our ability to step back and make decisions that support all life, not just mine or your's or some narrow band of buddies.