People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love
I never lost hope that this great transformation would occur. Not only because of the great heroes I have already cited, but because of the courage of the ordinary men and women of my country. I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps for just a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.
by Nelson Mandela (born 18 July 1918)
from Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
image –tsuihin – TimoStudios
Because of Ordinary Men and Women
This is one of my favorite passages of all time. When Nelson Mandela spoke, he was instantly and naturally the father of my heart.
South African apartheid was formalized in 1948, and not completely dismantled until the mid 1990’s. South Africa did not achieve majority rule until their 1994 election. I did not know such things existed until the mid 1980’s, when I was in my 20’s. It would be fair to say I had a sheltered, conservative upbringing.
The world had a few surprises in store for me: I began to meet people with interesting, inspiring lives.
My daughter’s namesake was a journalist friend who felt that the most important thing she could do as a journalist was to go to South Africa and help fight apartheid – and so she did, for most of her adult life. The idea that a flesh and blood person who I knew would do such a thing had a tremendous impact on me. I thought she was unique until a few years later, when I became friends with an artist who felt that the most important thing an artist could do was live in another culture and understand it.
May we all be so blessed to find (and be) such heroes and friends, face-to-face or through reading. And may we all think to apply big peace thinking to simple choices: what is the best thing I can do for the world, here and now, as my genuine and earnest self?