Ode to Friday: Mandela

south-africa-mandela-death

“It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that this is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

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 rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

~ Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela (South African, 1918-2013)

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Image: EPA/Jacoline Prinsloo/GCIS

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11 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Mandela

    • It cannot, and yet clarity is not what’s missing. What’s missing is the ears to hear.

      This is the paradox, no? There is nothing else worth communicating and the matter cannot be communicated. It must be discovered by each incarnation of the one, and then discovered again and discovered again and discovered again …

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      • Most people have never loved. The only thing they know is fear. Fear wants always control.
        You can´t be urged to deprive others of their freedom unless you live under terrible thralldom yourself.
        Those who want to control and manipulate are thus afraid of their own freedom eventually.

        Freedom…- the ultimate menace…

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      • I understand you’re speaking literally. I am also.

        Love/really love is a false distinction. We are love. That is who I am. That is who you are. That is who every human being is. There is nothing that can change that. That is what is.

        It is my unwillingness to accept myself in every way I am and in every way I am not that gives the impulse to dominate.

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  1. This jumps out at me: For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

    Such an amazing and practical idealist. Rare and beautiful. Thanks for posting this. I’m very glad to read these words.

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