'A spirit too strong for any army.'

26 Apr 2004
For Time Magazine's celebration of the '100 Most Influential', Bono praises
Aung San Suu Kyi, a 'real hero in an age of phony phone-in celebrity.'

'It's hard not to become a monster when you are trying to defeat one. Aung
San Suu Kyi is the leader of 'Myanmar', the country more correctly known as
Burma. She has been, in effect, under house arrest since 1989 when she was
elected to office.

Why? One, because of the military junta who came to power in a bloody coup
in 1962 and have been running the country with a truncheon ever since. Two,
because of us. The US has been better than Europe on the thorny subject of
sanctions, but all in all there's been no real roar at this poster child for
human rights abuse... just the odd bark and the occasional peeing on the
General's garden gate.

Hard to imagine, but even single-party democracies check their mail. They're
not just muscle, they're vain. Even these juntas have one eye on the
clapometer to measure just how many boos and hisses they can get away with.
Were it not for Amnesty International and filmmakers like John Boorman I
wonder would I have forgotten about her. Aung San Suu Kyi's peaceful bloody-mindedness
is driven by courage but her captor's bloody bloody-mindedness is driven by
fear - of losing the business they are running for themselves.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a real hero in an age of phony phone-in celebrity which hands out
that title freely to the most spoiled and under qualified. Her quiet voice
of reason makes the world look noisy, mad... a low mantra of grace in an age
of terror, a reminder of everything we take for granted, and just what it
can take to get it. You can't help but use anachronistic language of duty
and personal sacrifice.

U2 wrote the song 'Walk On' to honour this extraordinary woman who put
family second to country; who for her convictions made an unbearable choice
- not to see her sons grow and not to be with her husband as he lost his
life to a long and painful cancer.

I had wanted to get her life on the radio so we wouldn't forget the courage
of one so vulnerable and far away, whose life may depend on being
remembered. The lyric goes "You could have flown away, a singing bird in an
open cage, who will only fly, only fly for freedom?" This woman, with an
idea too big for any jail, and a spirit too strong for any army, changes our
view - as only real heroes can - of what we believe to be possible. The
jury is still out on whether we deserve the faith she has put in us.

Walk On won 'Record of the Year' at the Grammies, a very proud moment. But
in front of an audience of millions, I did what I've begged others not to.
I forgot to say 'thank you' to the woman in front of the song. Thank you.

More on Aung San Suu Kyi here


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