Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy birthday, Mr. (former) President...

I'm always a little slow to get on the bandwagon for things, particularly movies. I don't really go to the theaters anymore ($11 for a ticket, really?), so I have to wait for the movies to come out on Netflix.

So I just saw "Invictus" last night. Matt Damon is genius. That he can be a leading man and a character actor at the same time astonishes me. But what that movie really did for me was re-introduce me to a man I'd only been dimly aware of - Nelson Mandela.

I wasn't even in double digits when he was released from Robben Island, and really, the West's coverage of African news is pretty bad. So despite what a fantastic man and leader he is, Mandela made little impact on me. Clicking through stories for today, I found an article in The Guardian marking Mandela's 92nd birthday, which co-incided with Mandela Day - a day set aside to celebrate "Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual ability to make an imprint and change the world around them."

As I'm sure everyone is aware by now, the movie title invokes the poem in which Mandela found inspiration during his 27 years of incarceration. He used the poem to survive prison, but I think it can be applied to anyone in need of inspiration for anything, particularly when trying to change the world.

I've pasted it below and linked to the original site (so I don't get sued). :) It's short but does pack a powerful punch...


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley

(Photo courtesy of The Guardian.)

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