MANDELA & ME
I never met Nelson Mandela. Indeed, I’ve never been to South Africa.
However, I have been profoundly affected by the man and feel privileged to have shared the planet with someone who not only changed the direction of his own country and people, but also made a positive and lasting impact on the world at large.
There were many things about this man that made him exceptional in my mind. However, above all, his ability to forgive, set aside hate, grievances and the need for revenge and retribution are his most endearing qualities. And how his determined leadership in exercising these qualities brought about the unification of the blacks, coloureds and whites in his country through peaceful reconciliation after decades of the dehumanising imposition of apartheid.
How could he swim against the stream of the prevailing world-view that demands, at the very least, justice must be seen to be done? And that punishment for such obvious crimes should be imposed against the white perpetrators? How did he manage to persuade his political party (the ANC) and the general black and coloured population in general not to turn on their white masters and extract “justifiable” vengeance?
Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary demonstration of the power of unconditional forgiveness – not forgiveness with strings attached, whereby the “forgiven” are constantly and forever more reminded of their misdeeds and guilt – but forgiveness that overlooks and pardons the sins of the past, without recrimination. This extraordinary approach surely redefines the traditional world view of the dynamics of forgiveness?
To me, he is a shining light for all human beings to follow, if we are ever to bring peace between ourselves and to this troubled and intolerant world.
Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for showing me there is a different and better way of dealing with my grievances.
Thank you for showing me how to truly forgive.