to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both

i was reading a book recently for a leadership class about Leading Through Conflict and it was shocking to see that the vast majority of major leaders have not been able to lead well through conflict. as in... they suck at it. beyond that even, most suck at it extremely shamefully.

but i was absolutely struck by these words from a model leader for leading through conflict. maybe the best in modern times.

Nelson Mandela's story is fascinating to me. his name was still on the lips of South Africans when i was there and in Botswana in 2003. he is a hero and rightfully so.
because leading through racist/ethnic conflict has got to be the most difficult. i don't think i could do what he did because my nature would want to lash back out at the oppressor who labeled me the Other and oppressed me. i would want to serve them their just rewards.

but i hope these stunning and beautiful words from Mandela inspire you as they have me. the applications to our own lives and leadership are endless.

“My hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people… I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away [another] man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, and is locked behind the bars of his prejudice… Both are robbed of their humanity. When I walked out of prison, that was my mission: to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both.” 
– Nelson Mandela