What a Difference a Few Years Makes
If You Are Joisting with Windmills

Nearly a decade ago in 2008, I danced with death twice.  One dance was due to prostate cancer and the other with a traumatic brain injury.  Fortunately, I was able to successfully lead death as we danced.  I have been cancer free for over five years, and I am physically fine. 

Having said that, there is a great benefit to having done either dance.  It caused me to come alive...really alive.  Interestingly, doing the dance has caused a long list of people also to come alive: Randy Pausch, John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Miguel Cervantes, Kurt Vonnegut, Steve Jobs, Alan Seeger, John Donne, Oliver Sacks, Saul Alinsky, Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander the Great, and Don Quixote.

Interestingly, Don Quixote has been a mentor of mine for decades.  He too was old when he danced with death as he joisted with the windmills of his life.  His instructions to all his followers were to dream impossible dreams while joisting with the windmills.  That was his modus operandi to obtain his quests.

Therefore, when I morphed together doing the dances and joisting with windmills, it profoundly changed my life.  I am a different person that I was back in the 60s during the civil rights movement...radically different. 

However, three years ago, I spent a month in Myanmar (Burma).  Talk about a transformative moment in time.  I wanted to contact Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for an interview but wasn't able to do so, which was a great disappointment.  I wrote about my failure to Moh Moh, who was one of my tour guides while in Myanmar.  Moh Moh's reply to my pining away about not talking with the Lady sounded like an email from Don Quixote.  Essentially, Moh Moh told me not to give up.

I have made a formal request of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and have been told that requests will often take a long time to be reviewed.  In the meantime, before any correspondence, I have renewed my passport, updated numerous shots, gotten malaria medication and antibiotics.  I prepared the schedule of my online college classes so that if and when I return to Myanmar, I will be able to adjust my teaching.  Additionally, to show you how optimistic I am, I already purchased a gift for the Lady.

Now, why would a wooden craving of Don Quixote be at all appropriate for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?  If there is ever an incarnation of Don Quixote in the 20th and 21st century, it is the Lady.  If you look at all the windmills that she has faced, I can't think of anyone who has done as much work for human rights then she has. 

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A rally on August 8, 1988 better known as the 8888 Uprising

What resulted from that 8888 Uprising was 15-years of house arrest.  However, the Lady is in charge of Myanmar today.  Don Quixote is proud of the Lady as is the world.

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Over a quarter century later...the winner

In addition, the Lady's efforts have come with a great deal of personal sacrifice.  She  has gone from years of house arrest to becoming the leader of Myanmar.  What a difference years of suffering have made.  It is astonishing. 

Watch this link in The Guardian

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Don Quixote joisting with windmills

If you think that that the Lady has successfully joisted with many windmills, look at the fields of windmills in Myanmar that still lie before her.

Windmill #1.  Economy

Myanmar is one of the poorest of all the nations in all Asia.  It has had decades of a military dictatorship.  The Lady needs to joist with bringing the country out of the economic doldrums, in which it has been for decades.  Fortunately, the new president, Htin Kyaw is an economist.  Htin Kyaw and Aung San Suu Kyi will be joisting together to help their nation emerge into the 21st century. 

Windmill #2.  Sanctions including those of the US

Many countries, especially those in the West, have imposed economic sanctions upon Myanmar in an attempt to force the military junta to move to a more democratic treatment of the people of their country.  Many of these sanctions were put in place in the 90s due to human right abuses.  The Lady and President Obama are working together to ease the sanctions in the country while forcing the generals to address human rights issues.

Windmill #3.  China's economic deals with Myanmar

Just prior to the transformation of the military dictatorship into a somewhat more democratic government, the military signed several major economic agreements with the Chinese.  The Lady needs to address them while not creating hostilities with the Chinese who are worried about her dealings with the US. 

Windmill #4.  Drug wars

One place that Myanmar is doing well is in the area of opium production, which is the second only to Afghanistan.  Myanmar is in what is called the Golden Triangle of opium.

The Golden Triangle

Windmill #5.  Ethnic wars

Myanmar needs to address ethnic wars within the country.  For example, the Rohingya Muslims live in poverty and without a political voice.  Additionally, sources claim that 100,000 Rohingya are forced into what are called displacement camps.  Their other option is to attempt escape by boat. 

Windmill #6.  Ethnic wars and economy

The ethnic unrest is also mixed with a long list of natural resources.   Interestingly, these resources can be mostly found within the parts of Myanmar that ethnic minorities live.  There are about two dozen ethnic groups who want autonomy from Myanmar. 

Windmill #7.  The Lady's Place in quasi-democratic country

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi can't be the president of Myanmar because according to the constitution, chapter 3, no 59(f) that required the president that "he himself, one of the parents, the spouse, one of the legitimate children or their spouses not owe allegiance to a foreign power...[They shall] not be subject of a foreign power or citizen of a foreign country ... [or] be persons entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a foreign government or citizen of a foreign country." 

She was married to a British professor in Bhutan, and they had two children both of which have British passports.  Therefore, the Lady cannot be the President of Myanmar.  Nonetheless, she needs to govern beyond the presidency.  She said prior to their landslide victory a year ago, "If we win and the NLD forms a government I will be above the president. It's a very simple message."  That clear declaration runs counter to Clause 58 of the constitution, "The president... takes precedence over all other persons throughout the Republic of the Union of Myanmar."  Regardless, the Lady is in charge.

This essay explains why I see the Lady as the 21st century incarnation of Don Quixote.  Since both of them are mentors of mine, it also explains my quest to interview the Lady.  Nothing in my 73-years comes close to approximating the sheer excitement of being able to sit down and talk with the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  I too am driven.

Burma flag

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