I was invited to an event at NYU with the daughter and granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela. You don’t have to read or listen to much of my work to know his importance to me so I was interested to learn from family members who knew him privately and work for freedom on their own.
It turned out the last question came to me. I thought I was giving them a question that would both give me a useful answer and be straightforward for them to answer. They had spoken about the environment and invited questions on it.
I asked, roughly: in many areas people acknowledge individuals can’t change everything, but they act. In sustainability, they say “what I do doesn’t matter.” Nelson Mandela acted and did more than such an attitude would suggest. What can we say?
I figured they’d give an answer I may have heard before, but I could repeat it to others, saying it came from the Mandela family. I never expected them to say things like: why waste time on things where you can’t make a difference or how else can we get places besides flying?
Listen to the recording for their words.
I couldn’t believe my ears at how they treated sustainability as a place to give up on. I guess I could, figuring they hadn’t looked into it and nobody clarified it for them. Maybe they just read media stories about it and never tried to understand it.
They knew Nelson Mandela better than I do, but they guy I imagined would be rolling over in his grave to hear such an important issue and response to it treated with such misunderstanding.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees