Since Mandela’s death, I’ve been reading more about his life and his views. One idea that he and I share is that he blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. In one statement Mandela call Bush a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. Mandela even speculated that then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being undermined in the process because he was black. “They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said. He saw the Iraq War as a greater problem of American imperialism around the world. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said.
In the last fifteen years I’ve traveled to over fifty countries around the globe, and I can say with some authority that once you travel beyond the USA boarders, most everyone you meet shares Mandela’s view that America has become a global bully, throwing its military and secret intelligence weight around with appalling disregard for others. This is—like it or not, agree with it or not—how we are viewed by the world.
In the last five years, there has been a growing movement in this country to stop bullying of teenage gay kids. This battle is being waged in the schools and on social media, and frankly, it doesn’t seem to be effective. I think its time we, as a country, address the root problem, that we have created a culture where we attack whatever we don’t like. We are, as a people, bullies. In schools, in business, in politics, in international affairs, we have little tolerance for diverse opinions, methods and lifestyles. We have become sanctimonious, insisting that everyone fall in step with our shining example.
Unless we all begin to practice more humility and compassion, allowing that different doesn’t mean inferior, then we will continue to see our young people killing themselves, and we will continue to have the world view us with hatred born out of fear.
I believe this humility and compassion must be adopted at a personal level, and then at a community level. Only then, will it filter up to a national level.