Toward freedom for Myanmar

A Christian Science perspective: When visiting with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last fall, this author found fresh insight on the promise of freedom for the Burmese.

News media around the world have reported on the landslide victory of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, who won seats in parliament in a by-election.

Last year, after I had the privilege of visiting with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon through a mutual friend, I found that people not only adore her but also respect her as a symbol of a freer Myanmar (Burma). A taxi driver and our guide, as well as a server at a restaurant, tucked away a small photograph of her in their shirt pockets.

The recent progress toward freedom made in Myanmar reminded me of this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor. She wrote: “Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer....” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 1).

The Burmese people’s desire to exercise basic human rights, such as the right to think independently and express ideas without being intimidated, or to have enough food and education, have been bubbling within them, though these desires have not always been articulated.

As history has shown, such basic desires cannot be hidden or left dormant. People will find a vehicle through which to carry out their purpose and finally accomplish what is good for humanity. When desire is coupled with right motives, we can receive power beyond ourselves. And perhaps it is the meek in heart who are ready to let that power beyond themselves lead.

Furthermore, this sentence in Science and Health gives us the right perspective on how the meek or even a child can lead the way: “Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear” (p. 506).

It sometimes appears that the power to lead a movement lies in a particular person. But the real power comes from a higher source – what we call God, unconditional Love and undivided Truth. And the birth of Christ Jesus, the great healer and teacher, was an answer to people’s desire to be freed from physical and mental limitation. Divine Mind continues to reveal the God-given freedom that we already have.

Three of history’s great leaders – Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Aung San Suu Kyi – are from three different faith backgrounds, yet they have one thing in common: the fearlessness that comes from forgetting “self” and serving meekly, day after day, for a greater purpose.

Harking back to the idea that “desire is prayer,” it may be that these leaders are the answers to people’s desire to change and grow. How important it is, then, to pray individually and collectively for the betterment of humanity.

The Burmese people have taken a significant step toward freedom. Behind “this lady,” as Aung San Suu Kyi is known in Myanmar, is a much bigger force. The desire to see justice and to achieve the basic rights to learn, express, and excel will benefit the entire world. We can all be aware of it and add our prayers so that everyone in need can move forward with patience, meekness, and strength.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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