So, back to issues of love, two people appeared on my radar recently I can’t stop thinking about. One from a book I’d never heard of, “Mandela’s Way” by Richard Stengel of TIME. www.mandelasway.com. A friend recommended it recently, I read it in a day, first time in ages.
This book should be required reading for almost everyone, leaders, parents, children, teachers, athletes, whomever. It provided a deeper, richer perspective on Nelson Mandela than the media has. It’s one man’s up close and personal glimpse, as glimpse it could only be of such a man, of the real man. How he painstakingly, day by day, hour by hour made peace, became peace, and love, and kindness, compassion, forgiveness, understanding. It felt as if he was rebuilding from the inside out, a new way of being, beneficent being.
The book reminded me of another man I’d read about, in another prison, during WWII. “Wild Bill Cody” they called him, mentioned in such places as “The Gentle Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand: http://www.beyondword.com/p/GentleArtOfBlessing/
Day by day, Cody kept his vow to love every person he encountered after being forced to watch as Nazi soldiers killed his family, his wife and children requiring that he stay alive in a concentration camp. They needed his multilingual skills. That vow enabled him to keep peace among feuding prisoners and to emerge after six years appearing robust and peaceful, radiating health the book says, instead of emaciation as we’ve seen from so many pictures of that war. Mr. Mandela also, emerged strong and healthy in spite of the conditions, the endless toil and the poor diet.
Was there a common denominator?
Is their instruction for us? Today? Could radiating love, not anger or irritation or impatience be more beneficial than the gym and special diets? Let along finger-pointing, yelling and screaming.
I can only say for myself, a weight fell off a few years ago after a kind of wave passed over me, leading me to stop “reacting” negatively to every person or situation I saw. Something inside just decided it didn’t want to do that anymore, “not” like someone, or criticize. Have I work to do, you bet, but there’s so much less baggage to drag around. Reading of Mandela’s daily work along this line gives me determination, to learn to just be a loving presence, regardless of what’s going on around me. They say this practice causes the “around you” to change.
Surely I can do at least ten percent as much as these two under less stressful circumstances.