Nelson Mandela, December 5, 2013by Fred F. Farkel, Friday, December 6th, 2013
Guest editorial by Stan Stahl, Ph.D.
I publish 6 or so essays a year in honor of the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, etc. My objective is to write in ways that bring us together around the ideals of America, rather than in ways that separate us. I am proud that readers often tell me they find my essays inspiring, for it means that I have captured that inspiration which is America.
What must it take for a man to fight for freedom with the commitment and courage Nelson Mandela showed … and … then … after 27 years in prison … forgive his oppressors? Truly forgive them. Not just some platitude about forgiveness but true forgiveness, in the deepest most heartfelt most spiritual sense of that word. What must it take for a man to do this?
For this was Nelson Mandela.
Think about how hard this is. Feel it. All around us in the world of 2013 we see hate and anger. And this man, who saw more hate and more anger and more oppression than most of us ever will found the ability to forgive. Feel in your own heart how difficult this must be.
What a lesson he is for humankind!
Mandela appreciated that South Africa could only find a better future if it was a future in which all participated. It could not be whites or blacks; it HAD to be blacks and whites.
As a species, this is our future … our only successful future … that we become as one people …. E Pluribus Unum … learning to get along in a world in which we all get to live as free as we possibly can … each of us … endowed with those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And, ultimately, the primary thing holding us back – what Mandela understood – is the fear and the anger in our hearts. Mandela understood that forward progress demanded forgiveness and that forgiveness demanded truth and reconciliation. As someone once said “You will never have a better future if you insist on having a prefect past.”
We all need this lesson, both as individuals and as a species. The only way to grow beyond the past is to forgive the past.
Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for illuminating the path.
Now cracks a noble heart.
Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
Let Freedom Ring.
By son, Jonathan, wrote this about Nelson Mandela on his Facebook page:
Nothing needs to be said. If you are not aware of what this man has done for the world you are missing out on 100% awesome. The closest I could draw a hypothetical comparison is if Martin Luther King Jr. was born a slave, gained his freedom but was still oppressed, was imprisoned for being outspoken (as he was), then goes on to become president of the country that imprisoned him AND considerably reduces segregation in his country, eventually celebrated by the world. Good night, Mr. President. You have done your part to make the world a better place AND you’ve done it better than most ever could. That smile will keep your words alive for ever. Thank you.
My friend, Shad Meshad, sent me the following collection of quotes that personify Mandela’s spirit. Shad’s another hero as he and his colleagues at the National Veterans Foundation continue to do wonderful peace-loving work for America’s veterans: www.nvf.org.
1) “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”
2) “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
3) “If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”
4) “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
5) “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
6) “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
7) “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
9) “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
10) “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
11) “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
12) “Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.”
13) “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
14) “I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.”
Copyright © 2013. Stan Stahl, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay provided the essay is reproduced unedited and in its entirety, its source is identified as The Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright notice is included.