Thoughts on Invictus

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison in South Africa labeled as a terrorist for his work in opposing the apartheid system that oppressed not just the blacks but all who were not racially pure with full European ancestry. Early in his career he took Gandhi’s non-violence as an example.

Ecclesiastes 7:7 observes: “Surely oppression drives a wise man crazy, and a bribe drives a person mad.” So it was for Mandela.  As the pushback from the government came bringing more repression, he became convinced that non-violence would not prevail.  He and his group began targeted bombing of critical facilities, being careful to avoid human causalities.  The Government labeled him a terrorist. Arrested and imprisoned, he suffered beatings, boredom, and depravation as he lived in a 6×8 foot cell, and broke rocks for labor.  During this time he also read and thought.

In 1990, with apartheid unraveling Mandela was released from prison and became the leader of the anti-apartheid coalition of groups dedicated to end the hateful system.  It was he who led the negotiations that ended apartheid in South Africa, and he who became the nation’s first democratically elected black president.

As he took the reins of power fear shuddered through the white minority who feared a bloodbath of revenge.  But Mandela had grown over the decades.  He had learned that the way to victory, the way to unification, and the way to healing was not through revenge, but through forgiveness.

Coming up: In my next post I’ll begin to unpack forgiveness and the pain that is present in grace.

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January 15, 2010. Tags: , . Food For Thought. Leave a comment.