Healing the Wounds of a Nation — South Africa

17 01 2012
President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, Ju...

As we work toward reconciliation between religions, we have to recognize that often other factors of difference, such as ethnicity, culture, language, control of wealth, control of power, etc., are also contributing to, if not driving, the conflict. On the surface, these contributing factors may make the peacemaking effort seem impossibly complex. But at the heart-level, the keys to reconciliation are consistent whether we’re facing Muslim-Christian conflict in Indonesia or the racial conflict of Apartheid in South Africa.

Recently, my peace-team and I invited a sizeable group of Muslim and Christian young adults to watch the film, INVICTUS. It’s the amazing story of how Nelson Mandela overcame his personal offense at the hands of a racist government to then lead the nation in building a unified society, where blacks and whites became one family again.

After viewing the film, we broke into small groups to discuss these powerful quotes from the movie below. As you read them, I invite you to write back to me how they affect you.

Quote #1 — The Power of Forgiveness: (Mandela) “The rainbow nation starts here. Reconciliation starts here.” (bodyguard) “But these people tried to kill us!” (Mandela) “Yes, I know. Forgiveness starts here too…. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”

Quote #2 — Surprise with Compassion: “For 27 years in prison I studied my jailors. I learned their language. I read their books, their poetry. I had to know my enemy before I could prevail against him. And we did prevail…. Our enemy is no longer the Afrikaner (whites). They are our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy. And they treasure Springbok rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We would prove that we are what they feared we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint, and with generosity.”

Quote #3 — Inspiration: “How do we inspire ourselves to greatness? How do we inspire everyone around us? … If I cannot change when circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to?”

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