The Power of Contrast

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)Below are excerpts from Nelson Mandela’s “Statement from the Dock at the Opening of the Defence Case in the Rivonia Trial,” Pretoria Supreme Court, South Africa, 20th April, 1964.

Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war. Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.

Later, at the end of his statement Mandela declared:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

rob fordFor contrast read the statement from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s admission to using illegal drugs while in office.

“Yes I have smoked crack cocaine. But I am not an addict….  Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors.” (CTV News, Nov. 5, 2013)

In a statement released later that day he further explained,

“I love my job — I love my job, I love this city, I love saving the taxpayers money, and I love being your mayor. There is important work that we must advance and important decisions that must be made. For the sake of the taxpayers of this great city, for the sake of the taxpayers, we must get back to work immediately. We must keep Toronto moving forward.” (CTV News, Nov. 5, 2013)

Mandela gave up his freedom in his campaign for social, racial and democratic justice. Rob Ford gave up crack to be Mayor.  The contrast speaks for itself.

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