In Memorium: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

We are aware that Nelson Mandela was a controversial figure in this life.  He admitted to 156 acts of violence as a young man.  Apparently, his view was to counteract oppression and violence with violence.

Yet, people change, sometimes toward bitterness and despair, other times toward a greater vision that we are all in this together.  Mr. Mandela seems to have transformed in prison to seeing the humanity in all with the one exception of the unborn.  Yes, he had a flaw there in not seeing deeply enough into the humanity of the most vulnerable.

It is for his stand against the evils of apartheid, a stand that ultimately became non-violent, that we say thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mandela, for your unwavering vision and amazing courage. You guided a nation in transition away from violence. It could have been very different.

One case in point: he invited his jailer to an honored place for the Presidential Inaugural Address.

He showed by his actions that forgiveness is the way back for South Africa.

As another case in point: How many reprisals against apartheid happened after he was elected?  People listened.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Nelson Mandela.

He did not always see clearly, but he matured to see that political violence is no solution at all.

Rest in peace.

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Categories: Famous People, Our Forgiveness Blog


  1. Juan says:

    Simple, direct, and truthful. One of the best tributes I have read in the Net.

  2. Sophita says:

    In his early days, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. See it here:

    Do you want to honor a terrorist?

  3. Samantha says:

    Mr. Mandela apparently did have a history of using violence against violence in the 1960s and beyond for a while. Yet, he changed regarding how to handle human rights. Look at St. Augustine’s life. He was quite the womanizer and became a saint of the church after he matured. I have heard a comparison between the propaganda films idealizing Hitler and the film Invictus in which Mandela was portrayed as a moral hero. Yet, Hitler never changed. Mr. Mandela did as did Augustine. Remember George Wallace who stood against racial integration? He changed with time. Let us not demonize those whose pasts are filled with immaturity and even evil…..when they finally realize this and change.

  4. Chris says:

    OK, I will grant that Mr. Mandela did seem to change—to mature. Yet, he did not allow for human rights to the unborn. I cannot praise him. He was blind to the most vulnerable of persons, those who cannot speak for themselves. This to me overshadows what he did in post-apartheid South Africa.

  5. Samantha says:

    Chris, you make a good point. I wonder if he were to live an even longer life if he would have kept transforming to the truth of personhood. He certainly seemed to see the personhood in those already born who supported apartheid. The next logical step would have been to see that the person in the womb is every bit of a person as the oppressed in South Africa who were allowed to be born.

  6. Marta says:

    I think that most people will divide on this issue based on their own political position. Conservatives who are pro-life will be critical of him. Those with progressive tendencies will honor him. I can see that you are not taking either position. You see Mr. Mandela’s strengths and weakness and you do not blink. You are showing us that we can see the personhood in all, even in those who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum than ourselves. Thank you for this lesson.

  7. Alexi says:

    Nelson Mandela along with Rev. Tutu did much to institute democracy in South Africa. Marxists, who remain Marxists, are not interested in democracy but instead in rigid government control of wealth. This did not happen in South Africa as it did in revolutionary North Korea, Russia, or China. It is obvious that Mr. Mandela was not following the script of Karl Marx all the way to the conclusion. He cannot be called a Marxist for this reason. When has anyone heard of a Communist regimen talking forgiveness and reconciliation?

  8. Brian says:

    You will know them by their fruit. In his later years, Mr. Mandela planted forgiveness and themes of reconciliation into his country. I hope others see that rather than the rotten fruit of revolution from his more youthful and thus less wise years.

  9. James says:

    He changed. He still was not perfect, but he did change and for the better. Many people were set free by his persistent vision that all must be free……never, never, and never again…..

  10. Amanda says:

    He did a lot of good for a lot of oppressed people. May he rest in peace.

  11. Michael L says:

    Great analysis of an important man whose name will go down in history. He made people think and he helped many to react in a positive way.

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