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June 7, 2013
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Mandela

Joe Bialek

Cleveland, OH



(On February 11, 1990 the day he was released from prison I was coming out of a "prison of my own mind".  I had just moved away from home for the first time at the age of 27 and was preparing to enter graduate school in pursuit of a Master's in Public Administration at the University of Akron. 


My employment with the Coca-Cola Company was drawing to a six-year end with substantial enough changes to relegate me from the sales force to the position of cashier in accounting.   The post was surrounded by plastic bars and a steel door which housed the enormous safe.   Leaving both home and that position signaled a new found freedom for me and resulted in a successful career in the mortgage industry.  Madiba (Mandela) influenced that.)


Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars in a prison very similar to Alcatraz.  Rather than become bitter and angry he used the time to think through potential public policies that he could offer once he was released {something to be grasped at by aspiring public leaders in our country}.


Upon his release he was elected President of South Africa; the land where humanity first emerged before spreading throughout the planet.  He treated both Afrikaners and Africans the same; as equals rather than resort to the butchery of the opposition as most often happens when governments are overthrown.  Those who held critical positions within the government were not fired because of their political positions but rather were offered inclusivity as another great president once did when he was sworn in on March 4, 1861.  He, too, only served one term but was prevented a second term due to his assassination.  Nelson could have been assassinated as well but his calming presence and wise approach to politics prevented that from happening.  He served only one term by promise and choice.


Nelson was also known for his boxing skills that perhaps added to his courage to go toe-to-toe with others over issues vital to the South African people.  I won't meet Mr. Mandela until I exit this world, but do indeed look forward to communicating with a man of peace, love and charity.


My friend you have certainly fought the good fight and definitely kept the faith and now a merited crown of justice awaits you {Timothy}.  After your release you did not shout or cry out in the streets, nor break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick.  You did not get discouraged in your efforts to bring forth justice to open the eyes of the blind, free captives from prison and release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness {Isaiah}.


What the United States needs today is someone to come forward in the likes of Mandela, Gandhi, Lech Walesa, Dalai Lama (or the many others of our past) to lead real change in America.


(Rest) in peace my friend.  I love you Madiba, and thank you for what you did to improve the human condition.