What Americans Can Learn from Mandela

Much has been spoken about Nelson Mandela’s capacity for forgiveness. He forgave the people who made him captive, and helped unify South Africa, more or less. He certainly did do this, and it is something to praise him for. But there’s something else he did, and that’s something we can learn from. He demanded truth in return for reconciliation.

I’ve spoken before about the need for truth. I spoke of it most notably when talking about Bush and Cheney and how they broke US and international law during the War on Terror. About how their use of torture was completely beyond the Pale, and something we should never tolerate nor sanction. We won’t ever bring these criminals to justice as they deserve, but I’d be willing to forgive as long as they tell us the truth. As long as they are made to stand up before the nation and tell us, under oath, exactly what they did during their time in office. In return, a full pardon would be fine.

It won’t ever happen, of course. We’ll sweep it under the rug for about 50 years and then finally bring it all into the light of day, long after everyone involved is dead. So I’m not looking forward to this happy day happening perhaps even within my lifetime. But it sure would be nice.


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