What Ferguson could have learned from Nelson Mandela

What Ferguson could have learned from Nelson Mandela

What Ferguson could have learned from Nelson Mandela

…blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice.”

This is the call by Pastor Charles Ewing, an uncle of Michael Brown, a black man who was killed by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri.

Like many activists and speakers connected to the protests, church services and even the eulogy for Michael Brown, the calls to action have been for vengeance and to make Michael Brown a martyr – a trigger for potentially more race riots and cries of racial injustice.

“No peace. Do not talk about peace. Give us weapons.”

This is the call by a mother who lost her child.

But it is not the call of Michael Brown’s mother.

It was the call during Apartheid in South Africa made to Nelson Mandela soon after his release from 27 years in prison.

There, the black people had suffered extraordinary injustices at the hands of the white ruling government.

Like Al Sharpton or any other activists who claim leadership over the black community, Nelson Mandela who was their true recognized leader, had to respond.

“There is only one way forward and that is peace.

I know that is not what you want to hear, but there is no other way.

I am your leader. I am going to tell you always when you are wrong. And I tell you now, you are wrong!

…I have lost 27 years in prison…I have forgiven them.”

Nelson Mandela didn’t puff up his chest or call for more anger.

He turned away from his own wife, Winnie Mandela who remained angry and continued to promote and fuel more anger and violence against the whites and each other. Winnie Mandela endorsed “necklacing” – burning people alive using tires and gasoline: “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.”

The blacks were killing the blacks – even burning them alive.

Nelson Mandela on a national TV broadcast responded not by appealing to the raw and reptilian-brain emotions of rage and revenge, but rather by appealing to the core desires and necessity –equality, peace and freedom.

Nelson Mandela focused on the solution.

In his case, he encouraged people not to take up arms and engage in violence but rather to “stay home, be peaceful, and when election day comes, vote.”

Yet, 20 years later, it seems obvious that the protestors, activists and above all, the self-proclaimed leaders of the black community in the US, have failed to learn from the leadership of Nelson Mandela and the way to real transformation, the way to creating equality, peace and freedom.

These activists have thus far failed to even mention the black-on-black killings across the country, they have failed to offer real strategies for healing and change; they have failed to address the epidemic of lack of respect and lack of dignity amongst youth towards law & order and each other; they have failed to offer solutions for what they call a problem with policing in the US.

Instead, they are simply winning at fueling more hatred, driving further divisions and creating more isolation by speaking only in terms of color and victimhood.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. People learn to hate; they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.” – Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk to Freedom” (1994 book and 2013 biographical movie)

There is no pride in hatred or violence; let us all learn from Nelson Mandela and seek the solutions to real peace and real freedom for one and all.

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