More inspiration from Nelson Mandela

I talk a lot about Nelson Mandela during the lock down. Americans lose our shit after a month or two locked down. We can access all the culture, music, art, literature, etc that’s ever been recorded. We can buy food from all over the world. We can talk to friends and family with video.

Yet we act like we can’t handle it.

Here was Nelson Mandela’s cell for 18 years on Robben Island, their Alcatraz:

The red bucket was his toilet.

People around here are barely wearing masks—maybe 20 to 25 percent—let alone acting on significant problems of the day. Protests consist of walking outside, not much planning.

I get, with surprise, that not many people want to lead, but can’t get how many people don’t want to do anything, even in historic times, with tremendous opportunity for effectiveness.

I thought of a poignant view.

What would you do?

Imagine you were magically transported back in time to become Nelson Mandela on the cusp of becoming well known. Imagine you had the magic ability either to do what he did as him—to become president, to lead one of the greatest changes in power in history, but to have to live 27 years in prison on the way—or to live however you wanted. What life would you choose?

To clarify, in this magical hypothetical situation, if you chose to repeat his actions, you would with perfect accuracy know you would achieve what he did, but you’d spend 27 years in prison. If you didn’t, South Africa would remain under Apartheid, but you’d get to live however you liked every day. You could go out with friends, make more money, or whatever, guaranteed to enjoy life more.

Which would you choose—freeing South Africa at your expense or party?

How hard is the choice?

By the way, here is Wembley Stadium hosting part of Mandela’s 70th birthday party, a global event attended in some way by over 200 million people while he was still imprisoned.

Leave a Reply