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Aung San Suu Kyi: Peace Through Work

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi reflects on her spiritual life, our democratic responsibility, and the importance of asking questions.

Illustration by Cap Pannell

In the more than 15 years she spent under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says one of the most important things she learned was the power of kindness.“Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world,” she said in her 2012 Nobel speech, more than two decades after she was awarded the Peace Prize. “Kindness can change the lives of people.”A lifelong Buddhist, who has said she passed many hours of her confinement practicing vipassana meditation to gain greater clarity of mind, Suu Kyi today is navigating her transition from prisoner of conscience to nation builder. Last year she joined Burma’s parliament as a leading member of the opposition party, and she travels around the world to meet with heads of state and to call attention to her country’s continuing struggle for democracy and peace.Absolute peace on earth is “an unattainable goal,” she said in her Nobel speech. But, she continued, it is a goal toward which humanity must never cease to strive.“Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth—b …

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