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‘Love Thine Enemy’: Producer Stefano Kotsonis Remembers Madiba

Love thine enemy.  Turn the other check.  Speak truth.  Blessed are the meek.  Freedom. Be good.  Be kind.  It’s not complicated.  We’ve all been taught to live by these ideas.  But we love a guy like Mr. Mandela because however clever, possibly even ruthless he may have been as political tactician, he seemed, at least by the time he had matured, much, much better at living those precepts than most of us.

I met Mandela, but only to shake his hand, smile, exchange greetings.  His people fluttered around him like he was a special, tall angel.  And indeed, he had that air about him that most other powerful people I’ve met simply do not have.  Just a couple of examples:  Yitzhak Shamir.  A contemptuous, angry, even cruel man, he seemed.  Yassir Arafat:  A buffoonish charm, maybe, when pushing his way through crowds, but mostly he glowed with anger and self-pity.  Slobodan Milosevic. Murderous.   Franjo Tudjman.  Stupid and murderous.

Funny, but four ‘M’ leaders of Africa come to mind.  Mandela, Mobutu, Mugabe, Mubarak.  Can you admire the other three?  Don’t these men who had billions of dollars and the blood and sorrow of millions flow through their fingers seem so small and unimpressive by comparison to good old Madiba?

Who on the world stage can you admire as much?  Putin?  Merkel?  Musharraf? (Boy, there ARE a lot of ‘M’ leaders.) Our recent American presidents?  (Okay, let’s not go there.)  Pelosi?  Reid? Boehner?  McConnell?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn our respectful eyes towards somebody on the world stage today now that Mandela is resting in peace?  South Africans have their many reasons for mourning him.  One of the sad things about his passing for the rest of us is, well, read the papers.

– Stefano Kotsonis

On Point producer Stefano Kotsonis shows off his "Mandela For President" t-shirt in the WBUR offices. (Nick Andersen / WBUR)

On Point producer Stefano Kotsonis shows off his “Mandela For President” t-shirt in the WBUR offices. (Nick Andersen / WBUR)

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

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Aug 21, 2014
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We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

 
Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

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