It’s difficult for me to think of Nelson Mandela as anything but a universally-respected, wise, kind, and thoughtful asset to humanity. But he also organized attacks that would today be unconditionally condemned as terrorism. His government fought peaceful demonstrations with violence, and so he brought violence to his government. He was a fighter…once the fight got started. And he never stopped fighting, and the world is so much better because of that escalation to violence. That is the rarest sort of change, and it is a testament to his care as a diplomat, a politician, a human, and a warrior that it did not merely end in perpetual turmoil and bloodshed. To go from terrorist to president in only thirty years, with most of those thirty years spent in a cell, is an achievement I would never accept if I read it in fiction.
My video tomorrow is about inequality, and it doesn’t mention Mandela because I finished it yesterday and I had to fight the urge to remake it. But he is in my thoughts tonight, I hope he is in yours as well. If you’d like to learn a little more about his life, this short documentary is lovely.
I was a kid, and obviously very far removed from South Africa, and I want to be clear that I’m certainly no expert. But I overheard a lot of discussions about Apartheid in my childhood, because my parents and their church were involved with organizations linked to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s anti-Apartheid work. And at the time, it was very controversial. As a kid, I remember hearing that my parents were naive, that Mandela was a terrorist, that one-person-one-vote could never work in South Africa, that it would immediately become a communist dictatorship, that all the white people would be massacred, etc. And had things gone differently in South Africa—had Mandela been a less brilliant leader—the transition could indeed have been catastrophic. To me, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is one of the great human accomplishments of the past hundred years.
The world is now mourning the loss of a great man, as well it should. But let’s not forget that Mandela (and South Africa) might’ve been free decades earlier had it not been for the fear and discomfort of white people not just in South Africa but around the world.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour 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.”—Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
Somalia presidency: ‘Rest in Peace our brother Nelson Mandela, great leader for Africa, inspiration to humanity, justice and freedom fighter. We mourn you’ - @TheVillaSomalia
Muhammad Ali on Nelson Mandela’s death: ‘His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free’ - statement via @NBCNews
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is ‘profoundly saddened’ by Nelson Mandela’s death; he ’ showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us’ - @itvnews
Bill and Melinda Gates: ‘From prisoner to president, Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of equality and justice for all people’ - statement via @BBCNews
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: ‘In the modern age, Nelson Mandela will be remembered as an unsurpassed healer of human hearts’ - @MittRomney
Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan: ‘Nelson Mandela was a hero to the world. His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere’ - statement via @NBCNews
African National Congress: South Africa has lost ‘a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions’ - @Reuters
Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.: ‘Nelson Mandela brought the light of justice to a world struggling against the darkness of oppression and hate’ - statement via @NBCNews
Former US President Jimmy Carter: ‘Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader’ - statement via @NBCNews
UK Prime Minister David Cameron on death of Nelson Mandela: ‘A great light has gone out in the world’ - @BBCBreaking
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: ‘With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a leader who advanced the cause of equality and human rights, who overcame a history of oppression in South Africa to expand the reach of freedom worldwide’ - statement via @NBCNews
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: ‘Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president. He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony’ - statement via @NBCNews
New York City Mayor Bloomberg: ‘Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history’ - @ABC7NY
Former US President George HW Bush on Mandela: ‘He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen’ - statement via @NBCNews
Former US President George W. Bush: ‘President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time’ - statement via @NBCNews
Bishop Desmond Tutu on the passing of Nelson Mandela: “He was amazing in his selfless altruism for others” http://to.pbs.org/19ke3T6
Morgan Freeman: “As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go.”
My mom, my only family… whom I’ve supported emotionally for 24 years just told me that she doesn’t believe in me, that I’m a failure to her, that she doesn’t care about what the fuck I do and she wants me out of the house by tonight. I didn’t even do anything to have this just blow up in my face. She’s crazy and just ….fuck.
Thats only half the story but I can hardly even type the details as I sit here shaking.
I have two indoor cats that I need someone to hold onto until the 16th. I need help…
I don’t know many people in the area…but if I can get one person to help me out there. At least give somewhere for my cats to stay until my friend can come pick them up on the 16th.
I need someone who I can trust. My cats mean the world to me and I need them to move with me but I can’t get them up to Boston until the 16th.
“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”—Elizabeth Taylor (via chronicillnessmemes)