On a timely basis, I have just finished reading Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself, a collection pulled together from the great man’s letters, notebooks, taped conversations, prison diaries, calendars, and an unfinished autobiography.
A few on my favourite quotes:
“Those Greek plays are really worth reading. It’s like the classics, you know, the works of Tolstoy and so on, because after reading … that literature, you always come out … feeling very elevated and your sensitivities to … fellow beings having been deepened. It is one of the greatest experiences you can have” (page 113);
“Honour belongs to those who never forsake the truth even when things seem dark and grim, who try over and over again, who are never discouraged by insults, humiliations, and even defeat” (page 175);
“The cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, off course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these. But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being. Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life. ” (page 211);
“Through peace you will be able to convert, you see, the most determined people, the most committed to the question of violence, and that is the method we should follow.” (page 238)
“Compromise is the art of leadership and you compromise with your adversary and not your friend ….In every dispute you eventually reach a point whether neither party is altogether right or altogether wrong. When compromise is the only alternative for those who seriously want piece and stability.”
(Thank you Anna for a perfect birthday present)