Our leaders could learn a lot from Mandela

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 26, 2014

Early last December, nations around the globe paused to mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela. Our nation, with its parallel history of a similar type of oppression that led to Mandela’s ascension in South Africa, paused to acknowledge his selfless contribution to mankind.

But our mourning was fake. Mandela, who was imprisoned 27 years due to his beliefs, saved an entire country by preaching against the perils of natural human emotions, particularly anger, pride and vengeance. Our country, though we gave this great man his obligatory pause, couldn’t care less about the values he was willing to die for. We don’t forgive others, a Mandela staple, nor do we possess the patience to politely debate with and/or listen to the alternative viewpoints of others.

In America, those with opposing political ideas and agendas utilize the media to spread schoolgirl gossip and vitriolic lies. We bow at the altar of hate demons such as Ann Coulter or Chris Matthews, spin their spin to others who think differently (because, God forbid we form our own opinions), and actually grow to hate peers who don’t buy into the one-sided viewpoints our political parties espouse.

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A quick skim of Mandela’s life, along with all he accomplished in South Africa, would reveal principles that build nations, not tear them down from the inside. But our nation isn’t concerned with unity, peace, happiness and prosperity.

We’re concerned with getting even with those who dare to question our political beliefs. And political power, which boils down to the dirty dollar.

Imagine the United States under Nelson Mandela’s watch. People would, grudgingly at first, learn to forgive those who have harmed them in the past.

It would take time for some wounds to heal, but the medicine of forgiveness would soon begin to reap great social rewards. People would stop hating others and begin to realize that gossip and right-fighting are essentially gasoline and a match. Love for others and their differing opinions would not only create peaceful coexistence, but foster harmony.

What Mandela did was masterful, and he did it by learning to quell his emotions and apply rational thought. He realized what most of us do not: Fighting the enemy always results in one side losing, which guarantees further fighting. Treating the enemy with respect, however, leads to unity. Then there are no enemies.

Only one other man in history led in such a majestic, appealing manner. His name was Jesus Christ, who like Mandela was a prisoner at the hands of pious leaders. I have no doubt Jesus’s all-time best-selling book was a major influence in the life of Nelson Mandela.

The signs are all there — love your neighbor as yourself, embrace your faith, turn the other cheek, forgive those who harm you, seek peace, and hold onto the hope that living against the world’s skewed viewpoint will ultimately lead you to a much better place.

Nelson Mandela changed an entire nation by harnessing his anger and seeking higher ground. Research him. Notice how different he was from us. Then notice how much better off his nation, which was on the brink of financial ruin prior to his leadership, unified and thrived simply because he used his head…and his heart.

We can learn a lot from these prisoners. Why won’t we?


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at hollandkat3@aol.com.