Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bill Clinton's Journey

Bill Clinton in Haiti,
with George W. Bush,
yahoo photos.
"I am the captain of my soul."  Nelson Mandela

I once wrote a blog about my brother Loren and Nelson Mandela, seeing them as spiritual twins on the level of worldview and global perspective. I think I will add Bill Clinton to the mix and make a triad.

I'm aware this takes me out on a limb, but I'm thinking more spiritually than politically.  Beyond the arena of political conflict, on the terrain of democratic ideals and hope, life looks different.

Nelson Mandela, after serving 27 years in prison for his fight against apartheid,  returned to South Africa to finish what he had started. In 1994 he became South Africa's first black president. He served one term, then left politics to younger leaders.   Mandela united the global village in his struggle for freedom. And, thinking about the Middle East, transitions in the Arab world, and Christopher Stevens, he reminded us how long attaining freedom takes.

I believe Bill Clinton is following in Mandela's footsteps.  For many this may be a stretch; sure Clinton has a way to go.   But I have watched him deal with dishonor and move on.  I have watched him work with George W. Bush and former political foes to alleviate world poverty, assist African nations improve their economic future, devote time and money to Haiti to recover from man-made and natural disasters.  His work transcends politics.

After his own mistakes of the past and after the efforts of many to take advantage of them in the most politically motivated hate campaign I ever witnessed, pursued by elected officials in the US Congress whose own honor was sullied, the height of hypocrisy, I saw a man pick himself up, face his shame, and move on to become a better person.   He could have become a bitter man and spun to the margins of political life, stayed in the shadows of activism, but instead he threw himself into the fray.  He defined his purpose in life, against the odds.  Like Nelson Mandela.

My brother Loren once asked me:  "How many people could spend almost 30 years of their life in jail, for the crime of fighting for human freedom, and emerge with forgiveness in their hearts?"  I couldn't answer that.  I think I would have been enraged.

Now I ask: how many of us could be skewered the way Bill Clinton was in the 90s, so harshly, publicly, really inhumanely I thought, and emerge to talk about love not hate, cooperation not conflict, working together not working against each other?

There's something admirable about Bill Clinton's journey.  He's the captain of his soul.  
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