|Mandela statue in London’s Parliament Square|
Each time I have read this quote it always echoes what my mother used to say. She placed such importance on education. “People can even steal the clothes on your back but cannot steal what you know”. So it hurts to the core when kids today are refused access to education, sometimes not because they cannot afford it or don’t want to learn but simply because they are not allowed to. This a deliberate measure in stifling someone’s ability to develop and better themselves.
Much of the violence seen on our TV, PC, laptop, Internet enabled gadgets is all down to this one emotion; hate. We seem to be so filled with hate for each other whether for our differences in religion, our race, our sexuality, whatever it might be. I am no saint and not in the slightest bit perfect but I have always believed that doing wrong takes far more effort and energy than doing right so I make every effort to steer clear of unnecessary use of energy resulting a negative outcome. This violence against each other has lasting damage. Damage that is transferred to generation after generation. The experiences and hardships slaves suffered in North America, the experiences of Jews burnt to ash in the Nazi camps, the displacement of civil war victims today and those victims of apartheid is still felt and will be felt by descends of those who endured and died battling to overcome those terrible times. Imagine for a second, a child that has suffered abuse[ of any kind] from a young age and how that affects their life as they grow up. The effect on their confidence, their interaction with others, their outlook on life in general is a shaped by past experiences. So now multiply this by whole nations of people, all recovering from these experiences at different rates. We seem to continue on this path which sets up future generations for failure in one way or another.
Syrian’s are running out of their own country in droves, India makes homosexuality illegal, the constant talk of war between North and South Korea. Mandela spent 27 years behind bars fighting for what he believed in. Inspiring people to unit all races and backgrounds not just because he wanted, but because it’s the right thing to do. Could any of these leaders of these nations do the same? Would they be willing die in uniting with their every enemy or go to prison to unite their countries? So many are ready to go to war in order to avoid their countries looking weak. In the process signing up their own people as well as their enemy’s civilians for mass bloodshed. There are no real winners when war comes to an end, only victims. No both sides.
Instead they spend their existence in power not to unite their people or working to resolve conflicts with their opponents but resorting violence, threats, and intimidation in cementing their leadership and hold on their people. Like the quote above, both the oppressor and oppressed are not better off. Look at these countries now, both those inflicting the suffering and the victims of the suffering are at much of a loss.
I certainly hope that Mandela’s legacy carries on and inspires more leaders to seek to unit their people not just those they stand on familiar ground with. Seek to do the right thing for the whole country whatever the religion, race or creed in their nation’s make up. As Martin Luther King eloquently put it, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Also, we as people need to take on a far more active role in working towards peace both within ourselves and with others around us. For it’s not something that we can solely leave to leaders of our countries like they are infallible beings because “not until the laws made by man are consistent with the laws made by a higher authority will we live in a just world”