The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay: Mandela’s life reveals power of truth

  • It’s amazing how time can change the way we view things. Who now can imagine that once upon a time, Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist?

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  • It’s amazing how time can change the way we view things. Who now can imagine that once upon a time, Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist?
    But Mandela, 94, was regarded as such for decades, even by our own government.
    As a founding member of the African National Congress, Mandela was regarded as a criminal for demanding an end to apartheid, an entrenched system that denied black citizens in South Africa full and equal rights.
    Few of us can say we helped to change the world as he has. He did so not with fire and stone but with forgiveness and grace.
    Mandela’s story, however, is not new. From Jeremiah to Aung San Suu Ki, to call out hypocrisy and clamor for justice is to borrow trouble for yourself.
    We bristle when such people challenge us, when they dare us to do better, when they pull back the facade that covers our dark places. Like prophets, they disturb us, even frighten us.
    In time, we come to realize they were sent to shine the light of truth and chase away the shadows of injustice to which we sometimes reconcile ourselves.
    What makes Mandela’s story so memorable is it proves that unjust laws and jail cells don’t, can’t suppress the truth. He endured 27 years in prison with the kind of resolute courage that comes when you know you’re right.
    Because the ANC sometimes resorted to violence when peaceful resistance didn’t work, the group was tagged as a threat, but what its members did was not altogether different from what American Colonists did to wrench themselves free from the despotism of King George III.
    Americans went to war with a monarchy that saw no need to grant them a say in their own laws, even as the Crown taxed them.
    In the eyes of the British, the ragtag upstarts who waged war using guerilla tactics rather than means befitting gentlemen were not patriots, they were terrorists.
    But being on the wrong side of history can’t long withstand the very human desire to be free.
    Through righteous resistance and demands that the world pay attention, people in India who were assumed to be powerless pulled down a piece of the British Empire.
    Seeing this, some disaffected Americans applied the same techniques to the Jim Crow South and vanquished a system that not only trampled on the Constitution but also diminished this country’s moral standing in the world.
    It all shows that wrongdoing may prevail for a while but the long arc of justice truly does bend toward the light.
    South Africans remain some of the world’s poorest people, but it takes time to turn a big ship — something we often fail to take into account. At least now, even with the odds stacked against them, South Africans are free to forge their own destiny without the added burden of government-sanctioned discrimination.
    Page 2 of 2 - Nelson Mandela did this. He deserves our collective thanks for making the world a better place.
    Reach Charita at 330-580-8313.
    On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

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