This post is written by Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation
In the wake of today’s announcement that Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95, without a shadow of a doubt I believe the greatest legacy that Mandela left us, and something that we would do well to listen to today!, is that in his first speech after being released from 27 years in prison, Mandela said:
“Let bygones be bygones.”
Mandela would go on to say that he would work to ensure there would never be apartheid of any form in South Africa again. This means that Mandela refused to allow the dominant majority blacks impose the same system of oppression upon the white Afrikaners which they had imposed on the blacks for the better part of the past three hundred years.
As Desmond Tutu would recount, Mandela set the tone of forgiveness and reconciliation from his first words of freedom by making all blacks realize the rainbow nation must be blacks working with the whites who oppressed them in order for things to get better. It also must be noted that such an attitude by the oppressed towards their oppressors is not fair, should never have had to be, and causes the oppressed much more toil, pain, and unnecessary humility and humiliation.
I say it time and time and time again; and yet I keep getting laughed at and criticized every time I do–History has proven that culturally, sociologically, diplomatically, anthropologically, politically, and religiously, that in order for holistic sustainable change of advancement to happen, the oppressed must seek reconciliation through forgiveness and work with their oppressors to see, as Mandela said, “ideals become reality.”
Memories are real; and at times, real hurtful. But Mandela realized, before many others, that such painful memories can no longer be an excuse for the oppressed to turn into the oppressors.
So for all of those from both ends of the spectrum fighting for their singleminded beliefs to become the dominant lens which culture views, governs, and engages itself and others, just know that your dime-a-dozen mentality of self-professed correctness is not worth the free space on the internet it inhabits.
Real change; real equality; real holism; real togetherness; do not happen through an end result where one worldview dominates all others. It can only happen when each member starts to live into the belief, as MLK suggested, that our shared humanity’s decisions dictate our shared humanity’s future.
Partisan activists and haters will call such a vision a pipe dream, idealistic, simplistic, childish, or whatever other derogatory label one wants to dismiss the hard work of such true activistic reconciliation. But I can easily refute such ignorance with two words:
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” -Nelson Mandela