Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nelson Mandela Day

Oops! Yesterday was Nelson Mandela day, but that's okay. We just wanted to let you (or anyone interested) know that we have a copy of Mandela's "Speeches 1990" reprinted from the Militant, an international socialist newsweekly that was produced in New York City.

To get a little personal here, because we all like that kind of thing (well maybe not according to "Social networking 101" but hey whatever) << not that facebook is a multibillion dollar site built off invading peoples privacy (don't quote us on that though, we didn't see the movie)#antifacebookPROREALITYpropoganda; I'd like to share a little something with you from an essay written by my personal mentor, Daisaku Ikeda.

As a prominent Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet, Ikeda tirelessly meets with world leaders and prominent figures all over the world in an effort to build peaceful bonds and promote human values (that's right, he goes out into the world and does real things, it's incredible!) And I found this meeting between him and Nelson Mandela significant, especially since it was the year this book of speeches was published! We took the liberty of italicizing where we felt it was necessary. Happy Nelson Mandela day. Let's all step it up a little to intensify the struggle, whatever it may be.. #gettinrealcornyNREAL

"When President Mandela and I first met in 1990, I suggested organizing a series of programs to inform the Japanese public about the realities of apartheid and to promote education in South Africa. President Mandela accepted my proposals with genuine joy. His secretary, Ismail Meer, said that this offer of cultural exchange was a welcome recognition of Africans as human beings. This is what had been denied them in South Africa, where they were simply classified as "black."

The tendency to label people is not unique to South Africa. Prejudiced attitudes are at the root of human rights abuses everywhere. By lumping people into categories, we stop recognizing them as individuals, as our fellow human beings; we are no longer able to put ourselves in their shoes. They are there in front of us, but we do not see them.

An unwillingness to recognize the humanity of the people of Africa is literally inscribed on the map of modern Africa; its arbitrary, divisive borders decided by colonial powers. Africa is not a "Dark Continent." The darkness was brought from without. Nor is Africa a poor continent. It was made poor by rapacious exploitation.

During the Cold War, Africa became a stage for the proxy wars of the Eastern and Western blocs, and the weapons brokers of major powers grew rich as a result. And what did the rest of the world have to say to the African people who had endured so much? They called Africa a "failure." What indescribable arrogance!

"The struggle is my life." True to this conviction, in 1962 Mandela transformed even the courtroom in which he was being tried into a battleground of courageously articulated ideals and eloquent appeals for justice. Standing before the judge, he demanded that the right to vote be extended to all South Africans. He declared, "I consider myself neither legally nor morally bound to obey laws made by a parliament in which I have no representation."

From within his prison cell, Mandela continued to inspire the people of South Africa. Although he was unable to communicate with them, his very existence was a source of hope."

More on Mandela's fighting spirit:

The "dangerous criminal" who had been imprisoned for 27 years for high treason had emerged from that prison to become president of his country. Justice, which had been locked away for so many decades, had finally begun to reign again in South Africa.

As Mandela has commented, "South Africa's prisons were intended to cripple us so that we should never again have the strength and courage to pursue our ideals."

The prisoners were awakened before dawn to start a long day of forced labor. For 13 years Mandela was led in chains to a limestone quarry and forced to extract lime from the hard cliffs beneath a burning sun.

Even under these hellish conditions, Mandela managed to study and encouraged the other prisoners to share their knowledge with each other and to debate their ideas. Lectures were arranged in secrecy and the prison came to be known as "Mandela University." Mandela never relented in his efforts to change mistaken views and create allies among those around him. Eventually, his indomitable spirit gained the respect of even the prison guards.


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