Nelson Mandela and Forgiveness/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on December 9, 2013


Deroy Murdock wrote a piece on Nelson Mandela for National Review Online. He acknowledges a mistake in judgment. Mr. Murdock had rued the release of Mr. Mandela, from his 27-year imprisonment. Perhaps Mr. Mandela was yet another Fidel Castro in the offing. Such thoughts entered Mr. Murdock’s mind at that moment in history. Mr. Murdock now can state “I really blew it very, very, very badly.”

Mr. Mandela turned out to be one of the great moral leaders of the past century. When Mr. Mandela was inaugurated as President of South Africa, he sat his jailor (i.e. prison warden) in a prominent front seat. The act of forgiveness, though unspoken, was public and unmistakable. As Mr. Murdock describes it: “It also signaled black South Africans: Now is not the time for vengeance. Let’s show our former oppressors that we are greater than that and bigger people than they were to us.” Mr. Murdock further points to the act of conciliation shown by Mr. Mandela on the rugby fields attended by the native Springboks (and brought to prominence in the movie “Invictus).

Nelson Mandela recognized that a lack of forgiveness hurts all. That includes the victim himself. When it is time to move on, a continued insistence on recounting past hurts makes life quite burdensome and too challenging. If you were hurt, whether it be in business, marital matters, socially, etc. recognize what Mr. Mandela taught. If you must take revenge doing it by moving on and seeking new accomplishments. That is all that Mr. Mandela needed to start him on his way to becoming on of the most beloved statesmen in our time.