A Stones Throw 12-19-13

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All men are NOT created equal – and neither are women.

Never have been – never will be.

The writers of our constitution got it wrong. Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela got it right.

I would be remiss not to mention the life and death of Nelson Mandela. Seldom has a world leader been mourned and revered by all those whose lives he touched and by citizens and leaders throughout the world – even those who knew Mandela only through world news reports.

Nelson Mandela was one of a kind.

As we read about the violence and atrocities permeating time and again when a new leader assumes power and control of “his” country, it seems that to some the best way to eliminate the opposition is with death and destruction. If you kill the opposition, and anyone else who might even remotely become the opposition you can maintain power forever.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison because he opposed apartheid in South Africa.

Twenty-seven years in prison with the only crime he committed being he opposed apartheid. He opposed the system of segregation that was enforced through legislation by South Africa’s National Party.

After 27 years, Mandela was released from prison. When he became President of South Africa he had his chance for retribution. He had his chance to destroy those who forced apartheid on the black population of South Africa.

He had the opportunity to use violence and force against those who kept him in prison for 27 years.

He didn’t take that opportunity.

Instead, he embraced all citizens of South Africa – Black and White. Instead of conflict and violence he chose conciliation and cooperation. He governed with fairness and love.

He changed not only the culture of South Africa, but he showed the world that this is not a White and Black world. Or a Yellow and Red world.

His approach was very simple.

It is a people world.

What he didn’t do – or say – is that all men and women are created equal.

Nelson Mandela knew the truth – not all men are created equal – and neither are women.

What Mandela did say – and work hard to establish – is that every man and every woman should have the right to pursue any and all opportunities. No one should be denied that right due to race, sex, or religion. Equally important, no one should be denied that right due to wealth – or lack of wealth.. (My interpretation – not Mandela’s actual words.)

I don’t think his position can be argued.

It is a simple fact that there is only one Bill Gates. There is only one Michael Jordan. Only one Tiger Woods. Only one Barack Obama.

There is only one . . . and only one . . . (The list of names goes on and on.)

While it is important to realize that few can reach to top of their profession, it is equally important that every man, woman, and child have the opportunity to succeed – or fail – in his/her pursuit.

This is true whether the pursuit is to be a leader in the business world, the political world, or the financial world – a doctor or a lawyer.

This is true whether the pursuit is to reach the “top” as an athlete, a singer, an actress, or an artist.

This is true whether the pursuit is to be an electrician, a plumber, or a handyman.

This is true whether the pursuit is to be a father, a mother – a teacher or a coach.

This is true no matter what a person wants to pursue.

It doesn’t matter. Every man, woman, and child deserves the opportunity to succeed – or fail – in that pursuit.

Period – end of argument.

Nelson Mandela got it right.

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One other interesting comment about Nelson Mandela – the leader and the man.

In an interview after the death of Nelson Mandela, Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player who was born and raised in South Africa during the time that apartheid was the rule told the following story:

Player, who is white, had long worked with the Black youth of South Africa. He had developed training centers where young Black boys and girls could learn the game of golf and learn more about the game of life.

Shortly after Mandela was elected President of South Africa, Player had the opportunity to meet the new President.

Several years later Player sponsored a golf tournament in South Africa as the Nelson Mandela Championship Golf Tournament. Mandela flew in to participate in opening ceremonies.

When Mandela got off the helicopter, Gary Player was there to greet him.

The first thing Mandela said to Player as they shook hands was:

“I am Nelson Mandela. Do you remember me?”

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Nelson Mandela – a man strong enough to humble.

A man who proved his theory that all men and women are not created equal – but all deserve the opportunity to be what they can be.

There will never be another Nelson Mandela.

– Mike Cooney