As Americans and the rest of the world mourn Nelson Mandela’s death, those of us in the less popular position – being informed – are left with the utterly unfair, tough task of how to reconcile Mandela’s messages of peace and forgiveness with the knowledge of his neck-lacing Barbarism, his Democratic-Socialist terrorism, and lust for Communistic ideas.
How does one do that? Is it necessary? Does one merely extract the good and toss the bad to the side? If one were to do that, is it still Mandela?
The idea of “The Great Man” Mandela was is far greater and comforting to the uninformed human than is the reality behind his legacy as a political animal.
Reconciliation is a virtuous ideal, but is it always practical or applicable? Is it in the case of Mandela?
When I speak about Mandela as a whole person, Progressives tell me that they are disappointed in me, accusing me of dividing people into two camps – informed and uninformed – and of being driven by arrogance. Information equals arrogance now? Slow down, please; I’m still working on Truth being the new Hate Speech. Progressives and the uninformed others urge that they don’t think anyone is ignoring the bad, but that most people just recognize the overwhelming positive impact Mandela had. I disagree with their simplistic, presumed assessment, mostly. I do agree that it is not that people aren’t ignoring; but I further add that these “most people” who just recognize Mandela’s “positive impact” are completely uninformed, which, according to Progressive logic, just means to be humble, a much more comforting word than arrogant.
I question why they are disappointed in what I’ve said, for I’ve done what I have always done: present facts from more than just one angle, affording others the opportunity to see a more whole picture of issues, topics, or, in this case, a person named Nelson Mandela.
The world needs a hero, a leader, someone in whom they can find the hope or a wholeness they lack in their lives, family, community, or nation. It is an inherent trait of humans to feel this need for a leader or hero. This yearning, when manifested, allows the reasonable person to become deaf and blind to certain elements of reality that would otherwise deny or eliminate the necessary bricks to build that legend…to construct that Superman.
The question I have posed is how we – the informed – are supposed to reconcile Mandela’s prison epiphanies of forgiveness and peace with his acts of Democratic-Socialist terrorism and salivating lust for Communistic ideas, or the neck-lacing (not very forgiving/peaceful) his then-wife and he endorsed.
Mandela was the terrorist leader of a violent terrorist organization, the ANC (African National Congress), which was responsible for many thousands of mostly black deaths. At least we know he didn’t discriminate (he was responsible for both black and white murders).
Yes, Mandela had quite the impact on the world; while undeniable, it was a farce, based on lies that took root and became legend. The iconic legend is no more real than Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.
This is what he thought of your country, my country, our country: “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.”
What he thought about a country that truly doesn’t care for its citizens: “Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people. There can be no surrender. It is a case of freedom or death. The Cuban revolution has been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”
Hey, uninformed Americans, Mandela considered you his enemy; unless you support Democratic Socialism and lust a little for Communistic ideas, you are not his girl.
It’s said that in his late life, Mandela eased off his Red ideas. If such were the case, one must ask why this supposed conversion wasn’t media-worthy; for many would have embraced it. As it is, the uninformed praise him for the “idea” of what, to them, he represents. It’s not my intention to subtract credit from his character.
It’s in the best interest to be afforded all parts of the whole. In Mandela’s case, while I recognize why he’s appreciated, it’s pertinent that one understands that in praising him, one indirectly continues to validate the efforts he so passionately engaged in, began, encouraged, and perpetuated.
Persons should want to know the whole of the person and appreciate or reject him or her for it. In this best-case scenario, the informed person will fully understand why it is that he or she believes in, fights for, and defends that person…or none of those at all.
In the final analyses, it ultimately is up to the informed individual to forgive anything that might require such action or find a way – an informed way – of reconciling the good and bad.
Is the human investment in genuine hope for peace and forgiveness worth reconciling Mandela’s prison epiphanies with the political animal he was, merely because humans need that comforting idea of a hero whom we believe espouses virtuous qualities we’re afraid to admit we don’t possess, regardless of how incomplete that hero is?
Photo credit: michaelseangallagher (Creative Commons)