I enjoyed the new movie Invictus. Morgan Freeman did a stellar job of portraying the early years of Nelson Mandela's leadership in post-apartheid South Africa. Mandela's willingness to forgive the past and embrace a rugby team that had been a symbol of the oppression for so many is inspiring.
Mandea's leadership provides some clues to a better future for our nation. I am not a fan of our current president, but I do pray for him to have wisdom and to be a man of integrity. When I hear echoes of the street fighter from Chicago ("You lost. Get over it.") and the leftist organizer (the recent apology tour in the presence of foreign monarchs), I become alarmed. This is not the politics of inclusion and embrace, of forging a way past partisanship. Recent arm-twisting and payola in the Senate only confirms that nothing has changed.
Mandela risked his safety and alienated the Communist elements of the ANC when he chose the pathways of forgiveness and reconciliation, of accountability and integrity (contra Mugabe in Zimbabwe to the north). He lost his marriage, upset those who wanted payback for suffering and chose the long-term course of systemic change instead of the immediate gratifications of newly-held power.
My Christmas prayer for President Obama is that he would rise above the radical imprinting of his college years and the reactionary policies of current leaders, especially his Chief of Staff. His Nobel speech was decent, but it still contained too many inflammatory implications of global governance to reassure conservatives. Mandela understood that wealth had to be created privately even while better services were delivered to the long-neglected Black public. Mandela understood that a budget still mattered and the opinions of his opponents were heard. President Obama, will you listen - not to the shrill personalities - but to the concerned citizens and leaders who represent the people who actually create wealth, contribute a higher percentage of income to charity and pay most of the taxes?
Two groups have profited from the terrible spending policies of the last 40 years: those at the top of the ladder and those connected with the government. This includes some of the academic and entertainment elites who support certain policies and the lobbyists who represent global interests. Two groups have lost ground: the middle class and the working poor.
The answer is not to overtax the productive, but create space for new business, decentralize the delivery of social services and apply the genius of the 21st century "Imagination Age" to corrupt, outmoded government systems. Where is the Steve Jobs for our government agencies?
When our elected officials get the same medical and pension benefits of private citizens, when government unions are compelled to be reasonable and business leaders held to the highest ethics, there is hope.
Mandela stood against his radical party members, reminding them that he was the leader of all South Africans.
My prayer is that President Obama will find the courage to do the same. We can do better on health care and balance a budget. We can bring our troops home and secure our safety. We can have real borders and have compassion for those working hard. The key is to not be the servant of any one interest, but the interests of all.