Truthfully, I’ve read maybe 250 pages of Long Walk to Freedom’s 750 or so. But, between the movie Invictus and this meat pie I had once, I’m pretty sure I can fill in the gaps. Plus my brother-in-law is a South African ex-pat and so that makes me almost native by the commutative property of brother-in-laws.

I have one take on Mandela, and I’ve made it to others many times before.

I am unaware of any other human in all of history who was oppressed so absolutely and then was given so absolutely the power to invert that oppression on millions of lives in justifiable retribution and yet declined. Not Ghandi or Dr. King or Mother Theresa. All of these individuals, righteous and consistent in their pacisifism, never actually gloved the reigns to violent power that must have tempted Mandela. They were always subject to power, maybe power they declined, but power they never possessed in the way he did. He was the undisputed psychological Monarch of South Africa upon his election. Had he chosen to change the country’s language to Mongolian Chinese and require men to birth the nation’s children he would have had widespread support.

Call it strategic or contrived, he elected, in the face of significant opposition from his own and victimized people, to largely integrate and accommodate. If you notice, throughout much of the rest of the developing world, when abused society obtains power they return the abuse.

The only parallel is in the lives of famous religious figures, like Christ. They are disqualified from this conversation insofar as they profess either actual divinity or divine authority or x-ray vision. As far as we can tell, Mandela was not any kind of incarnation or supernatural peeping tom.

Just a man who chose to do right in the face of so much opportunity to do wrong.

Maybe the greatest human that ever lived. Seriously.


Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Dave Santos.
Today’s blong here:

When They Ask You to Run