What we can learn from Nelson Mandela

What we can learn from Nelson Mandela

Mandela 1

Henry G Manson gives his views

The passing of Nelson Mandela gives cause to reflect on his life, struggles and achievements. His gigantic life is something so many have drawn from, particularly following his release from imprisonment 23 years ago. It’s the character of the man is what gave him his worldwide authority. It’s should give cause to pause for a moment and consider how we might better serve our country and each other through the political lessons Mandela had to share:

“Let bygones be bygones. Let what has happened pass.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“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.”

When we look at British politics today we see screeching and squabbling over statistics, motives are always questioned, outsiders are feared and accused. A political party is judged not by the values it commands but by the newspaper editorials it attracts or the percentage it wins in the latest poll. Too often image trumps ideas and our voters are not viewed as citizens to be engaged and represented, but instead data to be identified, counted and arranged like beans. People have never had access to so much information and they show disinterest or distaste in our current political system.

Most of us in the UK cannot begin to understand and appreciate the troubles South Africa has experienced over the last 50 years and the life Mandela inhabited. But if we believe in politics to be a force for good then we must improve our conduct and remember what we’re doing this all for. The passing of Nelson Mandela is as good a time as any to hold a mirror up to our politics and endeavour to do better.

Henry G Manson

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