I was absorbed yesterday by the rememberances of Nelson Mandela. A few mean souls chose to speak of his time in the ANC, a time of violence, forgetting that he was meeting violence with violence and fighting for the freedom of his people. Most remembered his later years as one of the most peaceful men the world has ever known; a man of inclusion and reconciliation unlike any other statesman in our lifetime. Savior of a nation.
I was struck by a memory that Bill Clinton told. Pointing out that Mandela had included in his inauguration those who had imprisoned him and made them members of his cabinet, he had asked Mandela if he hated those men. Mandela had replied that he did, briefly, and had added that he realized that, “If I continued to hate them then they still had me. In order to be free I had to let it go.”
And out of that grew a healed nation.
When we hate those who disagree with us, when we hate what they believe, we do not damage them, we damage ourselves and we damage the society which it was our original goal to protect. “They still have us,” because we are not free. We are no longer working for our own good purpose because we are too busy wrapping ourselves in the cloak of opposition and hatred to hold fast to our own true cause.
Political discussion today is no longer about the nobility of one’s own cause, it is about the evil of the opposition. The paralysis of governance is not a conflict of two forces trying to do good, it is two sides fighting to stop each other; fighting out of mutual hatred.
We are rapidly becoming a nation enslaved by our hatred of each other, by our intolerance of ideas which do not agree with our own, by our own policies of exclusion. Nobody wins.