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Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian reverend known as a writer and activist. He founded Sojourners Magazine in 1971 and currently serves as its Editor-in-Chief. His most recent book is The[…]

Gandhi and Mandela

Jim Wallis: You know I would like . . .  If I could, I would like to interview Gandhi – but I can’t – about so many things.  “Be the change you want for the world,” he used to say.  I mean here is someone who understood spirituality.  He understood serious political tactics for building movements; knew that you had to sort of prepare yourself . . .  He said we had to prepare ourselves for independence.  I mean here was somebody who knew about changing cultures and changing politics.

And the most important political leader of our time – I’ve had a chance to talk with him briefly; I’d love to have a long evening with him – is Nelson Mandela.  And the reason I think he showed so much integrity is he had 27 years of spiritual formation in prison while sitting on Robben Island.  And it came to be called “Mandela University”, that prison, because they were all learning from him – the guards, the prisoners.  I was at his inauguration and his prison guards were in the front row; his old students, his old friends welcoming the birth of a new South Africa.  We need that kind of integrity in political leadership.  And I think it comes out of movements.  It comes out of struggle.  It comes out of sacrifice.  It doesn’t come out of just degrees, and pedigrees, and influence, and power.  The difference in power and authority . . . you know Pharaoh had the power, but Moses had the authority.  The British had the power, but Gandhi had the authority.  The leaders had the power, the Romans had the power, but Jesus had the authority.  ________ had the power, but Mandela had the authority.  We have to find leaders who really have the authority and not just power.

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