Saturday, December 7, 2013

Forgiveness: My compulsory lesson from Mandela’s life

While reading an article by Nobel laureate Archbishop Despond Tutu titled ‘Prison became a crucible’ paying his tribute to Nelson Mandela, I couldn’t help but think of a lesson in leadership which no management institute has ever taught nor can ever teach. The lesson of unconditional forgiveness to one’s detractors.

I see this as a common trait in all the people who I regard as leaders and idols– Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ and Swami Vivekananda.

All great nations, communities, societies have been built through reconciliation. The path of reconciliation begins with and must have Forgiveness at every step. And with a nation as diverse as my own, India, the fact that it continues to stand as a single nation since independence could not have been possible without a spirit of forgiveness.

Some people point out to the Partition of India in 1947 to say that we did have our black spot but my answer to them is that had it not been for the spirit of forgiveness (inculcated painstakingly by the Mahatma), pre-independence India would have divided into, not two, but 20 nation states post 1947.

So from the life of Madiba, I take back this crucial and compulsory lesson in life. Time will tell how much I’m able to live up to it.