“I think by now I have made it fairly clear that I am not very happy with the word ‘hope.’ I don’t believe in people just hoping. We work for what we want.”
Many of us still live in fear (and resentment) and hope.
As the sun set on the life of Africa’s greatest leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson R Mandela, in December 2013, Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille issued a sound bite which was ominous for many who had never enjoyed any form of freedom and peace of mind during South Africa’s apartheid years.
“Freedom is earned.”
Zille’s remarkable statement was made during Parliamentary tributes to the late Nelson Mandela just days after his death.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has made many speeches and written many inspiring letters and essays which echo similar themes of responsibility in achieving freedom, not just for oneself, but for all those who surround us. Particularly those who are not in a position to help themselves. We cannot sit back and wait for other men and women, great they may be, to help us on our way. We also have to act responsibly and mind the lives of others before we leap to action.
I remain disturbed as to why US President, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize some years back. What did he do to achieve peace in a divided world? I think the key that he brought to his Oval Office was hope. His social media campaign was most effective;
“Change we can believe in.”
We hoped that he would deliver. Barack Obama was the world’s newest policeman. As the USA’s first black president, the people who voted for him were inspired and hoped that he would deliver on election promises and curb the violence and unprecedented extremities of our world today. Did he deliver?
Barack Obama rescued big banks who were deemed to big to fail. In essence, the US government (and British government) nationalised their biggest banks and insurance companies which fed our desperation and greed for many years. The USA has one of the lowest unemployment rates, mind you. But they are heavily indebted to the rest of the world. Essentially, they remain the world’s most indebted nation and are more to blame (than any other nation) for the world’s pollution which has caused its climate to change and bring forth major environmental disasters.
At the memorial service held in honour of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s State President was sensationally booed by the small crowd which had braved the inclement weather to pay their respects to the great man. Zuma’s eulogy left most South Africans feeling empty and depressed.
But Barack Obama made one of the most awesome, inspiring and epic speeches of our times, closing it with the greatest tribute made to any human being of the last hundred years or so;
“He makes me want to be a better man.”
While he studiously avoids the war on Palestinians, he meticulously crafts his plans of destroying a caliphate.
South Africa produced no less than three Nobel Peace Prize winners in Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Albert Luthuli. All three men spoke of peace, not war.
Tibet’s Dalai Lama is also a recipient of this prestigious award. And still to this day, replicating China’s oppressive actions against a man of peace (not war), Jacob Zuma’s South African government refuses to grant His Holiness a visa to visit that country.
I am reminded of my most admired Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains a (peaceful) thorn in the side of the brutality and paranoia of the military regime in Burma. This highly intellectual and beautiful lady’s voice for peace remains strongest for me. Like most liberators of our age, Suu Kyi was forced into politics, in her case it was late, after thousands of Burmese were massacred by the regime’s soldiers.
In the earlier years of her house arrest, she walked bravely past soldiers and offered them flowers. I have a recurring image of this beautiful woman always portrayed with flowers in her dark hair.
In consideration of our liberties and what we have materially, I am reminded of those who have little. I am reminded of those who have nothing. In spite of what other politicians say to us to win their vote come election time, I like what Suu Kyi has to say to all of us;
“Use your liberty to promote us.”
Let us work for peace.