Nelson Mandela has died at age 95.
Here’s a short snippet about Mandela’s uniqueness from an article I published a couple of years ago on the role played by forgiveness and reconciliation in restorative justice:
Perhaps the most recognizable contemporary example of unilateral forgiveness is Nelson Mandela, who seems to harbor no resentment toward those who imprisoned him on Robben Island for 27 years. Govier (2002, p. 71) argues that
When Mandela reached out to his former enemies and did whatever he could to assure them that they would suffer no evil at his hands, he did not do this in response to acknowledgement and expressions of remorse on the part of white leaders. Nor was he responding to a community that had apologized for the wrongs of the past and indicated a commitment to deep and widespread moral transformation.
It is undoubtedly because Mandela had so much about which he could have been justifiably angry that his forgiveness has inspired so many in South Africa and around the world. The unilateral forgiveness that he offered to white South Africans was not seen by anyone as a sign of weakness or willingness to forget the past, but instead has gained him nearly universal admiration for his ‘openness, acceptance, and lack of bitterness’ (Govier 2002, p. 71). Indeed, Mandela’s decision to spend New Year’s Eve 2000 on Robben Island signified both his remembering of apartheid and his triumph over the conditions that system imposed on him and all black South Africans. Govier (2002, p. 61) rightly argues that ‘What is at issue in forgiveness is not whether suffering and wrongdoing are remembered, but how they are remembered.’
Govier, T., 2002. Forgiveness and revenge. London: Routledge.
"He loves children because when I went to see him I had some kids with me and people were saying the kids have to stay, ‘I’m sure Mr. Mandela wouldn’t mind seeing children. I won’t go in unless the children go too.’ I remember his representatives looked at me like this(makes stern and suspicious facial expression) and they went back and then they said, ‘Everybody come.’ The first thing Mandela did is run to the children and pick them up and hug them. I knew he was that kind of man and he loved them. He was talking to them and then he shook my hand. I knew I was right." Michael Jackson
Au revoir, Monsieur.
"I’ve got a whole stack of books in my cart. Most of them are advance copies. I know a place where they get thrown out."
“How many books have you read?”
“So why are you homeless?”
“I’ve tried to work a job a bunch of times. But then I get sad, and then I get high, and things fall apart.”
"I’m sure I must have done it spontaneously, because you are a good-looking, dynamic young man and it amused me to catch your attention. But for what purpose? For nothing. For a moment of pleasure, the pleasure of being able, fleetingly, to charm another person. I must confess I’ve enjoyed that pleasure my whole life."
— French feminist Françoise Giroud, as quoted from the book “Women and Men: A Philosophical Conversation.” (via robynlouis)