The release of the novel Saving Sam by J.L. Campbell has been timed to coincide with National Heroes’ Day celebrations in Jamaica. Sam, the protagonist finds a hero—or heroine if you like—in his aunt and the mission of this blogfest is to write a maximum of 300 words about someone who has been a source of inspiration. So, Who’s Your Hero?
Me: You are such a calm and courageous person. How did you achieve this?
Mr. Mandela: Courage is not the absence of fear. It is not innate or a kind of elixir we can drink, or something that can be learned in any conventional way. It's the way we "choose" to be. None of us is born courageous; it is all in how we react to different situations.
Calm is what people look for in tense situations, whether political or personal. They want to see that you are not rattled, that you are weighing all the factors, and that your response is measured.
Me: You are very accepting of everybody, and see the good in people.
Mr. Mandela: It is not that I do not see the dark side of someone; it's that I'm unwilling to see only that. No one is purely good or purely evil. We must learn to look past the negative. No one is born prejudiced or racist. No man is evil at heart. Evil is something instilled in or taught to men by circumstances, their environment, or their upbringing. It is not innate.
We should learn to accept and trust others, take an emotional risk which also includes an accompanying vulnerability. We sometimes take an emotional risk by confiding in others we don't know well. Yet we rarely equate risk with trying to see what is decent, honest, and good in the people in our daily lives.
Me: As a novice writer who has embarked on a never-ending literary journey, what single piece of advice should I keep in mind?
Mr. Mandela: Patience is the key word here. Twenty-seven years in prison teaches you many things, but one of them is to play a long game. As a young man, I was very impatient. I wanted change yesterday. Prison taught me to slow down, and it reinforced a sense that haste often leads to error and misjudgement. Above all, I learned how to postpone gratification – my whole life embodies that.
… I did not meet or get to interview Nelson Mandela… but the information above is taken from a book entitled: Mandela's Way Lessons On Life by Richard Stengel, a man who spent three years travelling everywhere with Mandela, ate with him, watched him campaign, was privy to his innermost thoughts, and came to know all the different sides of this complex man, as he collaborated with the icon on his autobiography.
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