Mike Leven: Nelson Mandela

On a trip to South Africa  ten years ago, I read Mandela’s biography prior to arrival.

I visited Robbyn Island  and was guided through his cell and activities by a cheerful intelligent man who had been a prisoner with Mandela for 18 years. At the end of the tour, I asked him why he was not angry. His answer was “What good would it do?”

I never forgot it. It was in fact what Mandela  represented that anger doesn’t solve problems — that understanding and patience and goodwill towards all does.

What a privilege for all of us to have seen and heard what Mandela was and will always be…a guide to a better world.

Mike Leven is President and Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation

Rabbi Marc Kline: On Mandela

We had this discussion prematurely, months ago, but the moment has arrived, and  Nelson Mandela has passed.

People never leave us, and even while his body will  be laid to rest, his soul and his spirit will burn brightly in the hearts of all  who, as the prophet Micah taught, “Do righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly  with God.”

May his passion for equality lead us all to share in each other’s  blessing.

May his light that still shines brightly help lead us on that  path.

John Y. Brown, III: Mandela

Reposting from July 2013:

Our world seems on the cusp of losing a genuine hero for the ages, Nelson Mandela.

The word hero gets overused a lot but never when applied Mr Mandela, who looks like Morgan Freeman playing God after God has decided to stick around and live among the mortals.

Muhammad Ali famously dismissed achieving the impossible saying “Impossible is nothing.” Nelson Mandela has exemplified that statement throughout his life and continues to do so.

I first heard of this man when I was 20 years old and had the privilege to spend several days in South Africa in 1983. Apartheid, legalized racial discrimination against blacks, was embedded in the nation’s legal system. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated and in poor health. We were taught at the time that he would almost certainly die in prison.

But he didn’t.

Several years later celebrating his 70th birthday while still in prison, Nelson Mandela rallied his people. He became a symbol of patient and peaceful persistence against injustice and a symbol of inspiration much like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King had become resisting injustices in their own countries just decades earlier.

Shortly after that, even though struggling with tuberculosis, Nelson Mandela emerged from prison a free man who not only lived but lived to become the president of his country (and the first black office holder in South African history). Ironically, his country had imprisoned him years earlier for resisting its laws and committing treason and sedition in defying Apartheid in Mandela’s youth. As president Mandela went on to remove the yoke of Apartheid from his country and for all of South Africa’s people.

And today—nearly 30 years after I first heard Mandela’s name whispered as a ghost in the failed resistance to South Africa’s Apartheid policy, he is a living embodiment of everything that was impossible then ….and that his most ardent supporters had stopped believing could ever happen.

How does that happen?

jyb_musingsHow does a man physically weak, legally incarcerated, politically written off, sick with a potentially fatal malady and aging into his 70s not give up?

How does that same man emerge in his twilight years and become arguably an even more successful South African version of our nation’s Abraham Lincoln?

I don’t know.

Except that’s the kind of things that real heroes do…..and real heroes are as rare as they are extraordinary. And it’s worth pointing out that one is still alive and in our midst. Although sadly, perhaps not for much longer. But he’s here now.

And we are blessed to be able to acknowledge him, again, while he is still alive. And thank him for teaching us that impossible isn’t always as difficult to overcome as it seems.

Mandela: An Invitation for Your Thoughts on a True Giant

If there was ever a figure that embodied the ideal mission of The Recovering Politician, the world lost him yesterday after his gracing us with his strength, faith. and compassion for more than 95 years.

Indeed, Mandela’s experience makes the absurd 21st century U.S. politicial debate that we’ve discussed ad naseum here — from debt ceiling collapses to fiscal cliff freefalls — seem so miniscule in comparison.  This was a man who was the leading force in turning a country from a ruthless, discriminatory apartheid system, into a majority rule democracy, albeit imperfect like all forms of government turn out to be.

But more significantly, once he secured power, he did the impossible: Mandela forgave the white rulers who had imprisoned him, who had tortured and killed so many of his friends, his allies, his people.  Mandela’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by fellow Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, was perhaps the greatest historical example of a moral value that so many of us try and fail to accomplish — forgiving those who have wronged us, moving forward in a spirit of reconciliation and peace.

Mandela’s example truly embodied the treachings of Jesus, whose challenge to “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” are potentially the most difficult religious teachings to truly follow.  And as my fellow Jews reflect upon our own transgressions every Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement, where we are taught that before we can earn God’s forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves and atone to our neighbors — we’d be wise to reflect on Mandela’s historic achievement.

Mandela’s life will be celebrated here at The Recovering Politician with a day and weekend of rememberance.  Our contributors will share their thoughts on the man and his legacy.  But we are also opening our virtual pages to you, our readers.  If you have any thoughts to share, please send them to us at Staff@TheRecoveringPolitician.com.  We will be publishing the best of your submissions today and over the weekend.

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