Mandela and the Complexity of Righteousness
Amid the tributes and commentary on the passing of Nelson Mandela, I didn’t have anything particular to add. But then I read this, by my friend Emily L. Hauser, that cuts like a clarion bell through all the well-intentioned hagiography that’s filling the airwaves right now. I hope she will forgive me for repeating it here in toto:
Mandela strove for nonviolence, yet when forced, resisted violently. He refused to renounce the right of the oppressed to violent resistance, yet after being released from prison, Mandela worked closely with former enemies. His work was fundamentally political, both radical and practical. We should be made uncomfortable by Mandela’s example – not just celebrate it, but study it. We make assumptions, and cherry-pick, and want to file off edges we don’t like, but the work of the righteous should always make us uncomfortable.
_____________Nelson Mandela in 2009 Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images.