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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Nelson Mandela answered the hero's call

December 11, 2013|By Joe Puglia

Most ideas begin small. They’re like saplings stretching for sunlight from a forest floor. Vines, the forest predators, twist and turn and often strangle a new seedling. Ideas are the same. They too have a precarious beginning. Their predators are people who pillage a thought and choke it until it dies.

That didn’t happen to Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary. His idea wouldn’t die, though he spent 27 years in prison as a punishment for what was considered by others a preposterous belief: that equality and human rights are inalienable. Albert Einstein said, “An idea that does not first sound insane has no hope.” Nelson Mandela lived for equality. He was an explorer who brought forth an ideal in a world endangered by the absence of consciousness. We live in a world where people are censured, imprisoned and beheaded, simply for an idea.

At his trial in 1964, Mandela said, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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When I think of his life I recall a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.” But Nelson Mandela wouldn’t break nor would he die.

He had an unbending will and sacrificed his freedom for the freedom of others. However he is remembered by the gentility he demonstrated when dealing with political and ideological adversaries. He showed how it was possible to disagree passionately but remain temperate, focused, and even genial.

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