The secret of Mandela’s revolutionary success

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

My friend Toni Baum wrote this on facebook last week, and I wanted to share it:

Lots of people are talking about the shameless appropriation of Mandela’s memory and the image of him as a compliant “teddy bear”, but what strikes me about the stories I’m hearing and reading – like my friend, Benjamin’s – is that the secret of Mandela’s revolutionary success was his generosity of spirit and refusal to bear a grudge. It was precisely his insistence in seeing the potential goodness in everybody – including his oppressors and betrayers – that made him a shrewd politician and diplomat. He was a driven visionary and a revolutionary who saw everyone as a potential future ally in achieving his goals. He wanted everyone to participate in his “rainbow nation” to the extent that he even reached out to the Queen of England, with whom he had developed a personal friendship despite her prior support of the Apartheid regime, so that the new South Africa could be part of the British Commonwealth. For Mandela, bearing grudges was burning bridges. His purpose was never power or revenge, but movement, change and freedom for everyone.

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