Saturday, July 2, 2011

Less celebrated decisions in history

In recent weeks I had been reading a fair bit on politics and history. Two different speeches delivered in two different continents, in two different eras caught my attention. In usual parlance when looked raw from an emotional perspective they might have been called as treason to ones own community or nation, but when looked upon after years of the even, looks a land mark in the history of the human history.

In chronological order, the first event was the speech for the surrender of Japan by Emperor Hirohito to conclude the world war. In a land mark speech,

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

On the outset it looked as if it was a great treason, as a huge deviation from the bravery exhibited by the forces who were at war, many officers opted for suicide over surrender, but looking back into the events as it standards today makes me wonder when the nuclear weapon was being used at will "Didn't that surrender save the human civilization?"

Second was the speech by FW De Klerk, the South African president before Madiba. Klerk apparently was from a conservative white family and at a crucial point of time in the history of South Africa played a major part in engineering the end of apartheid. In his land mark speech in parliament in 1990,

Our country and all its people have been embroiled in conflict, tension and violent struggle for decades. It is time for us to break out of the cycle of violence and break through the peace and reconciliation. The silent majority is yearning for this. The youth deserve it.

With the steps the Government has taken it has proven its good faith and the table is laid for sensible leaders to begin talking about a new dispensation, to reach an understanding by way of dialogue and discussion.

The agenda is open and the overall aims to which we are aspiring should be acceptable to all reasonable South Africans.

Among other things, those aims include a new, democratic constitution; universal franchise; no domination; equally before an independent judiciary; the protection of minorities as well as of individual rights; freedom of religion; a sound economy based on proven economic principles and private enterprise; dynamic programmes directed at better education, health services, housing and social conditions for all.

In this connection Mr Nelson Mandela could play an important part. The Government has noted that he has declared himself to be willing to make a constructive contribution to the peaceful political process in South Africa.

I wish to put it plainly that the Government has taken a firm decision to release Mr Mandela unconditionally. I am serious about bringing this matter to finality without delay. The Government will take a decision soon on the date of his release. Unfortunately, a further short passage of time is unavoidable.

Normally there is a certain passage of time between the decision to release and the actual release because of logistical and administrative requirements. In the case of Mr Mandela there are factors in the way of his immediate release, of which his personal circumstances and safety are not the least. He has not been an ordinary prisoner for quite some time. Because of that, his case requires particular circumspection.

Today's announcements, in particular, go to the heart of what Black leaders - also Mr Mandela - have been advancing over the years as their reason for having resorted to violence. The allegation has been that the Government did not wish to talk to them and that they were deprived of their right to normal political activity by the prohibition of their organisations.

read full transcript here 

It takes a lot of courage and self awareness to make a full circle and make momentous decisions like this, knowing that you would be seldom be celebrated for doing these acts! But most importantly as in Klerk own words when you look back from the nations stand point the positives from the decision out weights the negatives.

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