Nov 28, 2009

More ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream

“There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream.”

The opposition leader in Myanmar (Burma) Aung Sang Su Ky has been criticized by some of her followers and supporters for having preserved her Buddhist purity while things have only become worse for the population during the many years of her arrest.

It is certainly true that the discovery of one senior general stark naked in his office marching up and down giving salutes and bellowing orders, and his removal to a sanatorium, provided no relief for the population, nor any decrease in the power of the generals, whose grip grew ever tighter.

Generally speaking, Buddhists have a tendency to follow the advice of the Japanese master swordsman, “Instead of thinking maybe I could do this, or maybe I could do that, the first thing you must do is create a self as solid and unmoving as Mount Fuji.” Those who think of Buddhists as a subspecies of wimpy tree huggers might be gently reminded that all the martial arts there are were invented by Buddhist monks forbidden to carry weapons by the local war lords. The martial arts remain; the war lords are long forgotten. So it goes.

Gently reminded? “How do you get the attention of a political animal? Hit it between the eyes with a two by four.” A two by four does not qualify as a weapon and may be acquired at very modest cost from any local timber yard.

Awareness of possibilities is not limited to any particular culture or ethnicity. The tale of a property manager under notice to quit making some mutually beneficial arrangements with various debtors and creditors of the estate with an eye to the future is told by one Yeshua bin Youssef (aka Jesus of Nazareth) with the moral, or injunction, at the end of the tale “Study therefore the ways of the children of darkness, for they are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

So what exactly did the supporters of Aung Sang Su Ky have in mind when they voiced their criticism that the lady had preserved inviolate her Buddhist purity over the years, but that everything had just got worse? What else could she have done?

Well, one can imagine a scenario where the lady carrying all the trappings of world fame and a Nobel Prize might have announced a conversion to the philosophy of the generals, offered to use her good offices to present their case to world opinion, strengthen their influence with neighboring states, generate new sources of income, spread their power further over Asia, mollify and enthuse the population.

There are a number of avenues to elbowing her way to a seat at the table, and then genuinely opening up and improving international relations up to the very moment when the two by four hits the generals between the eyes.

Burmese have a reputation for xenophobia and isolationism, but macho types with a secret yearning to strut in the altogether yelling orders should be putty in the hands of a resourceful woman.

Update November 9, 2010:

Aung San Su Ky is free, released by Than Shwe and the generals. Barbed wire and guards removed from house, free to go, meets with supporters at NLD headquarters.

"If she resumes where she left off in 2003 — campaigning against the regime — I'm afraid the likelihood is that she will return to house arrest fairly soon," he told the U.K. broadcaster. "However ... we are allowed to hope."

Good one, girl.