Acton Institute Powerblog

The Example of Mandela

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Nelson Mandela united a nation in a common identity that binds South Africans, says Garreth Bloor in the first of this week’s Acton Commentaries, without a prerequisite of uniformity of opinion, ideology or ethnic affiliation.

In my personal experience, the great statesman’s commitment to vigorous debate and free speech to these ends were underscored as patron of our African School Debating Championships, a student initiative I was fortunate to be a part of. Annually high school students from across the continent were invited to Johannesburg to debate freely on the key issues facing the continent and the world in the spirit of Mandela’s leadership style. Every individual who met Mandela was inspired to be a better person in every aspect of their lives, from whatever their planned profession down to their role within their families and communities.

Mandela worked off a starting point of human dignity, rising above ideology, while upholding the highest non-negotiable principles of non-racialism and the universal inherent equality of every person. His approach, embedded in a conciliatory spirit, is one of the finest contexts for honest and sincere discussion and debate.

The full text of his essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • Emmanuel

    In 1996, barely two years after he got into power, Mandela together
    with the ANC party legalised abortion allowing it to happen up to 20 weeks of
    pregnancy. Seven-teen years later, the number of abortions declared legal in
    South Africa and paid for by its government has reached 1’000’000: one million
    babies killed in their mother’s womb!

    This does not prevent Gareth Bloor to start his article trumpeting: “Nelson Mandela was a man whose dedication to individual dignity and freedom was a model for a country’s people who had for so long been divided”.

    Gareth Bloor, you have got to be kidding!! The truth of the matter is that Mandela’s action looks like a track record of genocidal dimension!

    There is a whole lot more nonsense in this baffling article but the above is more then sufficient to completely discredit its author.

    • Joey Žaba Sabey

      Take your ‘murder’ nonsense elsewhere. All sane and rational nations allow this; they are not people, they are foetuses.

      • Emmanuel

        “They are not people, they are foetuses.” Please explain how “sane and rational” such a statement is. What is the fundamental difference between foetuses and say, the elderly, the handicapped and even just born babies?

      • Marc Vander Maas

        FYI: A fetus is a small person.

        • Joey Žaba Sabey

          Except that it isn’t. It is that nonsense that causes all of this misdirected rage. A foetus isn’t a ‘small person’, as that implies it is like a person only smaller. It is not like a person. It is incapable of surviving on its own, it has next to no brain worth speaking of, its nervous system isn’t really connected to anything yet so it is is utterly unaware of its surroundings…

          It is more ‘murder’ to put down a rat trap than it is to abort a foetus before 25 weeks.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            An infant is incapable of surviving on its own as well. An infant has a wildly underdeveloped brain at birth as well. Etc.

            You began your life as a fetus. So did I. A fetus is what a human being looks like at the earliest stage of development. I’m sorry that accepting that basic fact is difficult for you.

  • What I find amazing – and instructive – about Mandela’s story is nothing in particular about him as a politician, but rather how market forces, specifically capital divestment, brought down apartheid and him into power. Ironic, too, since he was a Communist.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    An infant doesn’t need constant life support? As a father of two, I’d dispute that. An infant requires 24/7 care if you expect it to survive. Or perhaps you know better. Do you often leave infants to fend for themselves?

    And you are correct to note that prior to being fertilized, a sperm and egg cell are just that – a sperm and an egg cell. That has no bearing on the fact that once the two combine, a new human person comes into being. If you choose to ignore that fact and the profound moral consequences that flow from it, I suppose that’s your problem, not mine.

    • Joey Žaba Sabey

      Your pathetic strawman tactics will gain you no ground here. An infant categorically does not require constant life support. It does not need assistance in breathing, in ciculating its blood, or in digesting its food.

      And I am not ‘ignoring’ anything; I simply to not agree with your assertations that a zygote constitutes a ‘person’. Even the ‘morning after pill’ acts post-fertilisation, and only the most frothing religious zealot would argue that it is murder. A ‘person’ only comes into being when a recognisable mind comes into being; anything before that is merely preventing a life (an -unwanted- life) from coming into being. And forcing an unwanted life into being is tantamount to rape.

      Your ethics are not grounded in science or medicine, but in sensationalism.

      • Marc Vander Maas

        It’s sensationalism to acknowledge that a genetically unique human person comes into being at conception? It’s some sort of a straw man to note that an infant human being is completely reliant on its parents for its survival? Certainly, a healthy infant has a heart that pumps blood and lungs that operate independently, true. And yes, a healthy infant can digest food, yes. I’m not sure how that infant is supposed to obtain said food without the aid of an adult, but apparently to note this simple reality is to engage in a massive sensationalistic straw man bonfire in your view.

        Joey, I don’t know what brought you to this blog or why you chose to begin commenting on this post. I don’t know why you react with such vehemence to people who disagree with you. And frankly, it’s pretty obvious that this discussion is going to be fruitless beyond this point. So – Merry Christmas, and I hope at some point you reach a point where you reconsider your opinions on this matter.