How do you assess Nelson Mandela’s complex legacy?
The People of Dallas
will honor Mandela by applying his principles, and initiate a symbolic
reconciliation process with Native Americans on Sunday, January 26,
2014. The event is to commemorate the 7th annual Holocaust and Genocides
event at Unity of Dallas. Details at: www.HolocaustandGenocides.com
Published in Dallas Morning News’s weekly column Texas Faith
By Bill McKenzie / Editorial Columnist
3:39 pm on December 10, 2013 | Permalink
How do you assess the complex legacy of Nelson Mandela?
There are so many ways to get into this question. So, let me start with these three quick summaries of his long journey:
In a powerful and controversial move as president, he set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid officially ended. The commission allowed those who testified about crimes in the apartheid era to step forward and tell the truth without fear of retribution. The sins of the past were acknowledged in exchange for individual amnesty.
On the other hand, Mandela was part of a group in the early 1960s that decided to take up arms against the apartheid government. They decided that rising up militarily against their oppressors was the best strategy. Of course, that was not the non-violent approach that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Mahatma Ganhdi embraced.And then there was this revelation in Bill Keller’s obituary of Mandela in the New York Times:
Mr. Mandela said he regarded his prison experience as a major
factor in his nonracial outlook. He said prison tempered any desire for
vengeance by exposing him to sympathetic white guards who smuggled in
newspapers and extra rations, and to moderates within the National Party
government who approached him in hopes of opening a dialogue. Above
all, prison taught him to be a master negotiator.
There are many aspects of his long, storied and complicated fight for justice. So, let me stop here and ask you:
What do you make of Nelson Mandela’s complex legacy?
Read on for some nuanced and insightful replies:
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
Despite the complexity of his legacy, Nelson Mandela’s powerful legacy is his inclusionary embrace of all people, just as Jesus and other spiritual masters did.
Mandela respected the “otherness” of others and accepted the God-given uniqueness of his fellow humans. For those who are committed to building cohesive societies, where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, Mandela laid a solid foundation for building such a society. I literally froze with admiration when I read, “And a guarantee that whites would not be subjected to reprisals.” That is a powerful statement and he must have taken lot of heat from some of the militants among the oppressed black majority, who were naturally raging to get even.
Mandela summed up his philosophy thus, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” he told the court. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Timothy Burke’s message sums up his legacy : “Mourn the statesman and the revolutionary and the terrorist and the neoliberal and the ethicist and the pragmatist and the saint and don’t you dare try to discard or remove any part of that whole. Celebrate him? Sure, but then make sure you’re willing to consider emulating him.”
Muslims may see him as living the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who lived a full life with all the pains and joys of life that a normal human would endure for the sake of public good. The Jewish people may long for a Mandela to resurrect social justice as their core value risking the overriding need for security with ultimate justice for the inhabitants of Israel-Palestine. Hindus may see it as someone who practiced the ideals of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum (the whole world is one family) and the Buddhists may appreciate his passive but positive action. Indeed, most religious people can relate with Mandela.
The people of Dallas will honor Mandela by applying his principles, and initiate a symbolic reconciliation process with Native Americans on Sunday, January 26, 2014. The event is to commemorate the 7th annual Holocaust and Genocides event. (www.HolocaustandGenocides.com) at Unity of Dallas.
It is about time we publicly acknowledge the wrong without fears of compensation. Native Americans deserve to be heard and acknowledged about their genocide, and we all need to put this hurt behind.
Indeed, Nelson Mandela’s legacy of building cohesive societies will live on.
To read the responses of fellow panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/texas-faith-how-do-you-assess-nelson-mandelas-complex-legacy.html/#more-32419
Additional write ups:
- A Muslims’ Prayer for Nelson Mandela http://nabsites.net/demo/a-muslims-prayer-for-nelson-mandela/
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on
Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to
the Texas Faith Column at Dallas
Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work
through many links.