Eckhart on Nelson Mandela & Egypt
How Egypt can learn from the Power of Stillness of Nelson Mandela, Anwaar Sadat, and Mahatma Gandhi.
This week we heard about 92-year-old Nelson Mandela’s extended hospital stay in South Africa, a sobering reminder that one of the great inspiring figures of contemporary life will not be with us forever. If we reflect on Mandela, how he changed the life of an entire country by staying alive and in jail for 28 years and compare that with the events in Egypt and Tunisia, we have an interesting study in contrast and continuity.
Mandela began his campaign to end apartheid with perseverance and passive resistance, but then resorted to the same kind of violence we’re seeing in the Middle East. By the end of Mandela’s prison term for those crimes, he was able to transfer power to the black majority without revolution or civil war. For this achievement Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize along with F.W. de Klerk for ending apartheid.
In Egypt, Anwaar Sadat led a violent war against Israel in 1973 only to realize later that recognizing Israel with a peace treaty was the only way to achieve peace and prosperity in the region. The resulting Eqyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty awarded both Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Manachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize.
Both Sadat of Egypt and Mandela of South Africa admired the non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi. Both men went from violent attempts to overthrow governments to astonishing peace initiatives. What changed? The hearts and minds of these leaders changed. Mandela instituted a policy of national and international reconciliation between blacks and whites in South Africa after becoming president. And Sadat made it possible for Egypt to be the largest and most important country in the Arab League to recognize Israel with a peace treaty despite great resistance from Egypt’s Arab neighbors.
As the events in the Middle East unfold today, we see again how a single person’s insight and revelation into the Present Moment can change the fate of nations and their peoples. Gandhi in India, Mandela in Africa, and Sadat in Egypt are historical proof that the seeds of a New Earth can sprout anywhere and anytime overcoming the voice in the head of nationalism toward the greater good of the Now.
This is the promise of spiritual evolution in our time.