Musings on research, international development and other stuff

If he’s going to rest in peace, we might need to stop squabbling

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20070907191032!Nelson_MandelaThe media coverage of Nelson Mandela’s passing has provided us with lots of opportunities to remind ourselves of his wisdom and kindness. But, unfortunately, it has also revealed some rather unedifying behaviour which makes me wonder how much we have really learnt from this great man.

Within a few hours of his death, alongside messages of shock and admiration, there was a plethora of shrill messages that person/group X did not deserve to honour him or that person/group Y was not honouring him correctly or that person/group Z was not honouring him sufficiently.

I mean, just to remind you, this man forgave the people who sent him to prison for twenty-seven years! But in the midst of our admiration for him we proved incapable of forgiving people who posted ill-judged facebook messages.

And lest you think this is a tirade against all the angry people out there, I should add that this episode made me reflect on my own tendency to judge and to hold grudges. I have been known to enter into a rage because my water company failed to fix a broken pipe for a few months, I can enter a dark mood because someone slights me on twitter and I have seriously considered how to plot the downfall of a colleague who stayed in a meeting room beyond her allotted timeslot.

Twenty-seven years people, twenty-seven years.

So, my resolution, and one which I welcome you to join me in, is to try to remember and honour Mandela by trying to be a just a little more kind and a little more forgiving to my fellow humans. To attempt to not assume that others are out to get me and to remember that most people are trying their best.

I’m not sure how long I’ll succeed – but I reckon there can be no harm in trying – so go on, fire some aggressive comments at me and watch for my zen-like reaction.


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