Published on Jan 21, 2014
I titled this blog as above because, of course, the year saw the death of Sir David Frost whose weekly satirical show (That Was The Week That Was) frog-marched politics into the 1960s, the decade of irreverence, of mocking and questioning leaders and exposing them to the harsh litmus test of acerbic and humorous analysis.
But the year also saw the death of Nelson Mandela, who demonstrated that even in an era when politicians are universally derided, great leadership can still emerge.
One quote from Shakespeare is said particularly to have sustained Mandela in his years of captivity: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come”.
Prison he said had matured him and his skills as the Great Persuader (more so than him being a Great Communicator) owed much to his ability to ‘power-charm’ people.
He accepted his own imperfections (particularly in his personal life and misjudgements of people) but his achievements and his ability through truth and reconcilation to put aside past injustices are heroic on a huge scale.
As Dostoyevsky phrased it, apparently, “What makes a hero? Courage, strength, morality, withstanding adversity? Are these the traits that truly show and create a hero?” This is quoted in my book of the year for 2013, “An Officer And A Spy” by Robert Harris. It is a gripping recreation of the Dreyfus affair in France in the 1890s and the heroic role played by an army officer Georges Picquart in fighting the army and political establishment to see an innocent man achieve justice.
It shows that heroism is not only for leaders, it is for all us – a worthwhile lesson to take us into 2014!
Published on Jan 21, 2014 by Neil Thomas