Roy Exum: The Wisdom Of Mandela

Sunday, December 8, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Allow me to write very little today so that Nelson Mandela might say a lot. “Madiba,” as he was lovingly called by a nation of blacks and whites who equally adored him, died on Friday after becoming one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known. I have tried to studiously watch his every move for over the last 20 years and can say that I have loved his mantra and his teachings too.

The entire world will mourn his passing at a huge memorial service on Tuesday so I have spent some time gathering some of the greatest things he ever said, most after he “became” the man that he was during 27 years of imprisonment. When he was released in 1990, Mandela was very much “the father of his country” and he taught our whole world how to “become.”

Therefore, I think it is important to share his wisdom, just like he once did when he would read the inspirational poem from William Ernest Henley's "Invictus" to fellow prisoners. The poem is about never giving up and its key line, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul," truly captured this man’s spirit and his soul.

Please read these quotes slowly in hope you will savor each one of them as I have:

* * *

“No one is born hating another person because of the color 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.”

* * *

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

* * *

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

* * *

“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”... “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

 * * *

“Quitting is leading too.”

* * *

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

* * *

“There is no passion to be found playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

* * *

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”

* * *

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

* * *

“Courage is not the absence of fear — it is inspiring others to move beyond it.”

* * *

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

* * *

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

* * *

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

* * *

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

* * *

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”

* * *

“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”

* * *

“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

* * *

“Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.”

* * *

“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

* * *

“Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.”

* * *

“Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.”

* * *

“We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.”

* * *

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

* * *

“There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.”

* * *

“I shall stick to our vow: never, never under any circumstances, to say anything unbecoming of the other...The trouble, of course, is that most successful men are prone to some form of vanity. There comes a stage in their lives when they consider it permissible to be egotistic and to brag to the public at large about their unique achievements.”

* * *

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”

* * *

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

* * *

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”

* * *

“It is most unusual to return to a place that has changed in ways you yourself have altered.”

* * *

“There is no such thing as part-freedom”

* * *

“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”

* * *

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” (he once told the court.) “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

* * *

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

* * *

“Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

* * *

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

* * *

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

* * *

“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”

* * *

“In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”

* * *

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

royexum@aol.com


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