I’m at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in Washington DC this weekend. It’s been a great experience talking about social change and sustainability in the presence of Bill Clinton, Usher, Madeleine Albright, Usher, and 1000+ enthusiastic, dedicated students with strong moral compass. Talk about star power! Apart from the stars though, the passion in the room is palpable. It’s one of those gatherings where you get to hear about way cool projects and the myriad of ideas that others have for a better world. Another inspiring weekend. We need to make something like this an official part of the curriculum.
Anyway, I want to highlight one thing that President Clinton said yesterday about freedom. People do things for many different reasons. Some lost their way and ended up in prison or even death. A question was asked about what can people do to overcome the obstacles in life when all else seems lost. President Clinton said that everyone of us need something to set ourselves free. He shared the story about Nelson Mandela, who was released from prison in a historic event in 1990. It was an emotional moment captured on video.
Nelson Mandela preaches acceptance and forgiveness for all, and he even asked the people who captured him to become part of his staff when he was elected president. President Clinton said that this was a really wise political move that kept the country stable, but he also asked Nelson Mandela this: “When you got released, you must really hate those guys.” Mandela responded with something like this:
“I was. I was filled with hatred and also fear; I haven’t been free for a long time. But I realized that if I continued to be angry, it’s like I’m still in prison.“
Many of us are imprisoned without knowing it. Whether it is the GPA, the resume, the salary, the physical appearance or something else, it is time to set ourselves free. Let it be. Let life flourish. Let yourself find true joy.