This blog about Mandela isn’t really about Mandela

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With the passing of Nelson Mandela it really is an end of an era. He is the face of anti-Apartheid. A fighter for freedom and democracy against the evil of government-enforced racism. He was also deemed a communist and terrorist at various times throughout the years. His efforts that lead to his incarceration in 1962 were proceeded by advocating for violent protest. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

He spent 27 years in prison for “conspiracy to overthrow the state”. After an international campaign lobby he was released. He was South Africa’s first black President in it’s first fully representative democratic election (ie. everyone had the right to vote). He worked tirelessly to end Apartheid, which was politically enforced racial segregation. He was the recipient of many awards for his efforts including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. I think he was a good bloke.

Now it might be a bit of a stretch, but try and put yourself in his shoes between 1962 and 1990 while he was in prison. How would you feel about it? I’d be thinking that it was unfair, unjust, no voice, misunderstood, hurt… angry. Then when he became President in 1994 and abolished Apartheid, would it be time for revenge?

Mandela did something that has been my personal favourite thing about him when he came to power. He created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). To help heal South Africa the TRC were able to provide amnesty to perpetrators of human rights abuse as long as they told the truth. Victims were also able to tell their story. These hearings were not without criticism, but what a way to help a country heal from hurt and bitterness. Answering evil with good, not more evil.

Such a paradigm shift from the usual “good guy gets his revenge” action movies I’ve seen. Is justice only concerned with punishment, or is truth and healing more important? All of us are part of a family, community, society, nation. How we live affects those around us.

Another good bloke called Paul wrote a letter to some Christians a couple of thousand years ago saying “… Overcome evil with good”. No easy task I’ll grant you. It requires setting aside how you feel in favour for something better. Something that is pure gold. Something that has the ability to change the world.

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