The fourth installment in the series of articles written by our friend, Solomon Rajaram Hariharan, a member of the “Dream team 2012” of “Sri Lanka Unites”( A youth movement for hope and reconciliation).
For a change, we would like to present his views on quotes by great leaders in the world. As each and every one of us is a leader in the journey towards reconciliation, they can be a fountain of inspiration for us…
Understanding the quotes of great leaders of the world can be a strenuous job. But when we ponder on the words, they bring out a clear message; to change our adamant beliefs.
Nelson Mandela is a leader in South Africa who voiced against the apartheid policy in South Africa. He spent almost three decades in prison. Mandela spoke a lot on how leaders should be. One of his quotes says that leaders are appreciated most when they put others in front during victory but take frontline during danger. It is the selfless qualities of a person that makes him or her, a leader. He also spoke on learning the peoples’ language. He claims that when speaking in the peoples’ own language, the message is spoken to the hearts. As leaders of Sri Lanka what we should accomplish is becoming trilingual. Thus what we speak not only makes the people think but also move their hearts. A leader should be able to win the hearts of the people not the mind alone.
Though the majority in South Africa loved soccer, Mandela learnt to love the game of rugby which was the favourite sport of the minority. Through this he did not neglect the sport of the majority but utilized the challenge as an opportunity to connect with the minority. He even made arrangements to host the Rugby World Cup in his country. He led by example that forgiveness is a vital key to open the door of reconciliation. The walk towards the goal is not easy. There will be obstacles in the path. Some might even threaten the life of the leader and the followers. During that time, many leaders panic and become pessimistic. Nelson claims that he is optimistic. That is one reason how he overcame the trials and tests in his life. During those times, Mandela learnt that ‘courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’ Mandela had many fears in his life but he managed to conquer them. He encourages us to live a life we are capable of, instead of settling for a life that is less; as ‘there is no passion in playing small’.
‘Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world’. This is another one of Mandela’s quotes. This is because education opens one’s eyes to the problems and blind doctrines of the society. Education makes a person think before taking action. Many leaders try to use the illiteracy of the people and make the people obey their orders. When the people are educated, they would know the difference between right and wrong. Thus education plays a major role. Sri Lanka has a high literacy rate. But is this enough? People should receive an education that not only earns them a living but also ensures that they understand the principles of the leader they follow, as blind following would only lead to disaster.
My favourite quote of Mandela is as follows, ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite’. The quote clearly tells the state of Sri Lanka. People grow in environments that discriminate and hate others not because they like to, but because they were taught to hate others who are different. This is the obvious state of the country. What we as future leaders should do is spread the love that can reach the hearts of the people. We may fail several times. But as Mandela said, ‘The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall’. We should have the courage to stand and voice our opinions even though we might be pushed down.