Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


December 26, 2013

WE THE PEOPLE: To the spirit of things past

CROSSVILLE — This year, Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life on earth came to an end. Mandela, like Thomas Paine, understood that throwing off a powerful ruling class requires that many different people join together in a common effort. Not only did he encourage all of the disparate tribes living in South Africa to cooperate in the effort, but he invited the large Indian population to help, as well. And, of course, he reached out to the world.

Jesus made it rather clear that the powerful and wealthy are in a very precarious position, and that they should redistribute their riches to the poor. Jesus was no apologist for the ruling classes and religious interpreters of his day (the Sadducees and Pharisees). In the Sermon on the Mount (given in Matthew, echoed in Luke and backed in many places by the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas) Jesus indicated that the meek, the peacemakers and those who suffer injustice are blessed. He said we should “turn the other cheek” and “judge not lest we be judged.” Jesus said we should treat all people, even the alien Samaritans, as our neighbors and, of course, he proposed the Golden Rule as the most important summary of his moral philosophy. Naturally, the wealthy and powerful were not pleased.

In Apartheid South Africa, wealthy whites owned all of the means of production, as well as the government. Mandela knew that system was unjust and needed to be overturned. He also believed violence against people should be minimized during the struggle. His influence spread and the world began to notice the brutal nature of South African apartheid. Naturally, the wealthy and powerful were not pleased.

Mandela was imprisoned as the world watched with critical eyes. During his decades in prison, Nelson Mandela reached out to his jailers and worked patiently to consolidate and improve the human bonds in his prison community.

Eventually, the white apartheid government leaders realized that growing tension in South Africa was likely to explode. They also realized that only Mandela could smooth the situation.

Nelson helped negotiate the transition terms that prevented violent rebellion and brought about majority rule. Then, as the first president of the Republic of South Africa selected by all the people, Mandela (amazingly) set up “reconciliation councils” where former enemies (apartheid apparatchiks) were not accused and jailed, executed or banished. Instead, they were welcomed to tell their stories, meet their victims and be accepted as friends. The other cheek was turned.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” said Nelson Mandela.

How fortunate we are to live in a world that has visionaries like Mandela. We should all spend a moment reflecting on his proof that openness, dialogue, human justice (not retribution) and reconciliation can still be more powerful than modern well-armed police, prisons, bitter partisanship and divisive propaganda. For the People to triumph over oppressors, the old ways are still be effective.

As Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done!”

Thank you for keeping hope alive, Nelson. Merry Christmas!

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at

Text Only
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014