Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. probably made the two greatest contributions to political thought in the second half of the Twentieth Century. They confronted the injustice of apartheid and segregation. They became moral leaders who worked on behalf of the primary moral concept of equality. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be remembered as an advocate of nonviolence as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Nelson Mandela will be remembered as the leader who, after spending 27 years in prison, became the President of South Africa and advocated a policy of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela had incredible resolve against entrenched injustice, but they will also be remembered for their great sense of individual and human dignity. The successful application of the ideas of non-violence and of forgiveness and reconciliation was quite an accomplishment in the context of the Twentieth Century. Not only their ideas, but their examples as individual leaders in this context, can even now be recognized as having enduring value.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
    -Nelson Mandela

“So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. ”
    - The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.