Aung San Suu Kyi and the ‘politics of kindness’

I don’t want to give prime minister Matteo Renzi any more coverage than he already gets, but I was struck by his comments earlier today on the performance of veteran Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party National League for Democracy in landmark parliamentary elections on Sunday.

“It swells the heart,” he is reported to have said of the still provisional results that look set to give NLD a majority in parliament, ending decades of military and then semi-civilian rule.

He then recalled the “beautiful words” on the “politics of kindness” spoken by Suu Kyi during her Nobel Lecture in Oslo in June 2012, 21 years after she had been awarded the prize.

“Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people,” he quoted her as saying.

In a world visibly suffering from ‘compassion fatigue’ – in Europe with respect to the refugee tragedy playing out on our borders – how good we have become at forgetting this fundamental truth.

Thank you Matteo Renzi for drawing my attention to these words and to Suu Kyi’s broader speech.

I hadn’t read it before and it moved me to tears.