“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart that its opposite”
– Nelson Mandela 1918-2013
I interrupt my current string of blogs because of the passing of one of the truly great men of our times. Nelson Mandela was a man who understood what freedom was. After being jailed for a third of his life for nothing more than the color of his skin he was set free and went on to become his country’s first black president. Years later when being interviewed by then US president Bill Clinton Mr. Mandela was asked if he felt anger and hatred for the people who had imprisoned him. He said as he was walking out of jail he did feel that as those people took away his wife for all of those years which ended up ruining his marriage. He also was deprived of the privilege of watching his children grow up. These feelings are understandable. I think any of us would feel the same way. What sets this man apart was his answer to the next question. He was then asked if he did have those feelings, and rightfully so, how did he manage to put them aside and work with those same people who put him in prison for the good of his country. His answer speaks volumes and is something we should all pay attention to. He said he knew if he did not leave those feelings of anger and hatred behind he would still be in prison and never be free. Wow. I don’t know about you but I do not think I could take that high of a road. It has been said that forgiveness is not a gift you give the other person, but a gift you give yourself. Through his compassion and understanding a nation was healed and people came together. What could we do in our own lives if we did not let our feelings of anger and hatred stop us from doing what we should? We may not be able to heal a nation, but we could heal a family, a workplace or even our community. Buddha said being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Our feelings of hurt, anger and sadness that we hang on to and let rule our present are our poison. Do yourself a favor and let them go. Not only will you honor the member of a truly great man and leader, but you will free yourself from the worst prison we can put ourselves in.