Sometimes it seems as if only bad things are happening in the world. Lately the news has been filled with tragedy—bloodshed in the Middle East and Sudan, the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But every once in a while we hear about a bright light of hope, a true modern-day hero. I learned of a woman like this a few months ago when Jeremy Woodrum of the U.S. Campaign for Burma asked me and 26 of my fellow musicians (Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Natalie Merchant, among others) to donate songs for a benefit album to help raise awareness about Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
Her name is a mouthful for us Americans (it's pronounced Ong Sawn Soo Chee
), and she is more than a handful to her Southeast Asian country's military regime. Known to the Burmese people simply as "The Lady," this mother of two leads a nonviolent struggle for freedom against a government that has slaughtered and displaced ethnic minorities, tortured and gunned down its detractors en masse, and squashed any tendencies toward democracy. Under house arrest for her work in the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi is currently the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient and has been in police custody on and off for 15 years. Much as Nelson Mandela embodied the aspirations of South Africans, she is a symbol of courage and hope to the people of Burma.
I agreed to sing on the album because I wanted to help. If you'd like to help, too, there are a few simple ways:
- Purchase the two-CD set For the Lady—all proceeds go to the U.S. Campaign for Burma—at music stores or at uscampaignforburma.org.
- Write to your legislators, urging them to speak out for democracy in Burma.