Vol. 8    No. 25
DECEMBER 12, 2013

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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
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Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                            Mandela and Peace
The passing of Nelson Mandela this past week has made the world pause to reflect on — and for many to
mourn — the Passing of this great world leader. Mandela was truly a great man, a revolutionary whose
dignity withstood 27 years of imprisonment because he wished to be free, that he wished that South Africa’s
government would be responsive to the will of the majority, that it should be democratic.

And once Mandela and the African National Congress seized power, it was Mandela — but most assuredly
not him alone — who kept the big picture in mind for his people and all South Africans when he sought
reconciliation and not revenge.

I can see parallels between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Both were truly great men who
became icons for movements much larger than themselves. Their lives became symbols for the efforts of
millions of people for surely they did not achieve justice on their own.

A great many people contributed to the end of apartheid. There were the freedom fighters who carried on the
struggle for the 27 years that Mandela spent in prison for surely if the agitation for the end of apartheid had
ended with Mandela’s imprisonment, Mandela would have died in chains on Robben Island.

It was the agitation and advocacy for self-rule in South Africa by so many people following different paths,
people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Madison’s own Dr. Daniel Kunene among many others who
brought an end to that barbaric and unjust system.

And so, over the years, Nelson Mandela has become a symbol of the dreams and aspirations of the South
African people, of a very diverse society. These are dreams and aspirations that remain unfulfilled except
for those of a privileged few. The true fight for liberation must continue in South Africa.

It is important for Nelson Mandela to have become an icon for South Africa because the peace there is still
very vulnerable and tentative because economic justice does not yet prevail and South Africa could
descend into chaos without the hope that the icon of Nelson Mandela gives the South African people. Why
else were the African National Congress and the government of South Africa so unwilling to let Mandela die
and held information about Mandela’s health as if it were a state secret.

I hope that the icon of Nelson Mandela will not become some type of opiate for the South African people, that
the memory of Mandela becomes a form of idolatry where people acquiesce to the wretched conditions of
the present and do not continue the hard work of social change.

During this holiday season, I wish a lasting peace for South Africa, a peace based on economic justice and
a government that is responsive to the wishes and aspirations of the South African people. Peace does not
mean maintaining things as they are now. Peace means continued movement toward a future where the
higher principles of humankind prevail.

And I sometimes wonder where our American society is going during this time of rebirth. As I read the news
these days, it seems that violence has broken out everywhere. The rational part of me knows that the
violence has always been a part of our society. It’s not that the violence is growing. It’s just that through our
ability to get instant news from all over the world that we are just more aware of the violence as it happens.
And some of it, like school shootings, has just become more spectacular in nature.

In spite of what we see, in spite of the fear that it might inspire, we as a community, we as a nation must not
loose sight of peace. We must stand up to the violence in our own lives not by begetting more violence. We
must have the courage not to use violence in our lives. We must look inward at ourselves to see how we
conduct our lives causes violence in other people’s lives, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or economic.
And then we must proactively make changes in our lifestyles to seek peace within our households, our
neighborhoods, our communities, our nations and our world. The change that we seek, that peace must start
from within. And once it is firmly and honestly within us, it can explode outward and change the world.

During this holiday season, no matter what your faith or customs are, I wish you that meaningful peace that
can at least transform your small section of the world into a better place for all who reside there.

Happy Holidays!