Hessel: All my philosophy, if you want to call it a philosophy, all my political philosophy, goes more and more in the line of nonviolence and determination. My little book, which we called “Indignez-vous!” said essentially, “We must be brave, we must have confidence, we must work for basic human values that are in democracy and human rights, etc. … And of course, from that point of view, Aung San Suu Kyi is the best possible example.
Can you say more?
It’s not only that she is a woman, already very important – we need women now, some of them are very good, as she is – but she has this quality of determination and at the same time nonviolence. She has never preached violence. Therefore, her image can be put close to … Nelson Mandela, or Mikhail Gorbachev, or Vaclav Havel, and Gandhi himself, of course, and these people have something in common that puts them close to Buddhist philosophy as well…. The idea that one can be efficient by being determined and nonviolent is something on which I think we can try to build the future of our unfortunate mankind.
Are there other globally recognized figures of conscience comparable to Aung San Suu Kyi today?
I keep searching. She is really for the time being a very exceptional figure. I don’t see anywhere a similar figure. There are people like Mary Robinson [former Irish president] who has been a great figure in human rights, and Gro Brundtland [former Norwegian prime minister] who has been very active for Rio+20. … But no one is as exemplary as Aung San Suu Kyi.
You recently published a dialogue with her.