Influential Thinkers: Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein

“If ever there were a year for Big Ideas, and a frustration at not hearing them from our leaders, 2012 was it.”

-Foreign Policy

Since 2005, Foreign Policy magazine has built an annual list of those people considered to be the most influential thinkers of that year. The list is built on reader’s ballots and focuses on key living public intellectuals who are active in the public eye.

This year’s top thinkers are Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein, “For showing that change can happen anywhere, even in one of the world’s most repressive states.” If you don’t know the story of the Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi, I recommend reading about her. TIME magazine wrote a fascinating article about her not too long ago.


The modern history of Myanmar (Burma) is a fascinating study on the tug-o-war between extremist government and the will of the people, and Aung San has been a beautiful symbol of peaceful but powerful resistance.

Burma gained independence from Britain in 1947, in large part due to Aung San’s father Bogyoke (General) Aung San. After Bogyoke’s assassination, his wife became an influential politician in the new Burmese government as ambassador to India and Nepal.


I think it’s fascinating a newly widowed, young mother would be appointed this position by the government then, not long after, the government of the same country becomes notorious for various and violent violations of human rights, and harsh restrictions on freedom of speech.

The beauty of the change in Burma/Myanmar is that it happened slowly and in large part thanks to the patience and selflessness of two people. It’s difficult when I see all the dirt of the world, it makes me feel impossibly small and useless.

“It’s also testament to the notion that individuals and their ideas can truly change the world, a theme that resonates in ways large and small throughout this year’s list”

-Foreign Policy

The biggest lesson for me is one person can make a difference, it just takes time and work, and that inspires me to keep going.

What inspires you to keep going?


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