I have just read the most remarkable book. Its two most commendable features are: its brevity [it’s only 141 pages long] and the absolute correctness of its message. It contains the solution to America’s decadent political division: the feverish enmity between Democratic Liberals and Republican Conservatives.
Briefly documenting one man’s exemplary life, it demonstrates what the American Left and Right need to accomplish to forge real communication and thereby serve not their parties, and the wealthy who support them both, but our country. The book is titled, “Knowing Mandela.” Its writer is John Carlin, who also wrote another book that inspired Clint Eastwood’s satisfying film “Invictus.”
The book is, of course, about Mandela, who single-handedly ended South Africa’s Apartheid. Carlin – in an intimately penetrating piece of writing – by revealing the secret of Mandela’s remarkably successfully political style, reveals the crux of America’s political impasse, and plants the seed of its needed solution. Never mentioning our country, Carlin nevertheless cuts to the quick of our own current political malaise. In plain words he describes the two most important lessons he learned from personally knowing Mandela:
“The most important thing in life is to be kind.” And: “One can be a very great politician and still be a very great person.”
Our own politicians on both sides of the aisle appear to have lost the ability to master either of these two lessons. Carlin’s book shows why Mandela, a secular and pragmatic politician, gained admittance to the pantheon of history’s most exalted world leaders. If the facts of Mandela’s feat in destroying Apartheid do not seriously touch us emotionally, I believe that under America’s current form of capitalism and its concurrent political decay, we have all become destructively hardened persons.
The solution Mandela found to his own country’s problem infers that America’s disregard of the thirty million of our citizens who have lost and have not recovered their incomes constitutes our own particular form of Apartheid. Our obsession with our own private well being at the expense of our poor citizens, whom we are all guilty of economically leaving behind, is as inexcusable as was Apartheid to South Africans.
Until our vainly combative Left and Right politicians and we rediscover how to treat one another with respect, getting beyond petty differences, we are simply honing our own form of Apartheid. Ours is based not on race or ethnicity. Rather, it is based on our acquiescence of the creation of an elitist wealthy corporate class of citizens, a desperately fragile and disintegrating middle class, and an expanding class of disenfranchised poor.
I suggest you find the book and read it: “Knowing Mandela” by John Carlin © 2013. A Harper Perennial book, it is most certainly at your library, available online, and in book stores everywhere. It is a vital book about a remarkable man by an astute and articulate writer.