Archives for : Zen

Invictus

Great movie, if you still haven’t seen it. I had one or two things I got out of it. In particular a couple of lines from a poem Nelson Mandela quoted.

I am the master of my fate.
I am the captor of my soul.

A particular emphasis on “I” should be noted here. It might even be called “defiance” considering he spent 27 years in jail. Considering what he managed to achieve with the country and the people contained within its borders one shouldn’t forget all the hard feelings between blacks and whites. Managing to forgive ones captors after such a long time in captivity, I can’t start to imagine how he managed it. How do you forgive those who essentially took half your life away from you? How do you forgive someone who has beaten you with a stick, just for the colour of your skin?

Consider yourself in this situation, sitting in a cell barely big enough for you to spread your arms out. You have a blanket as your mattress on the concrete floor, a pillow and a chair. This is your home, for a very long time. Nothing you have is yours. You have no family. You have no future. What you can look forward to is a soggy meal and breaking up rocks, while your feet are in chains and the sun unrelentingly beating down on your back. Day in, day out. Week in, week out. Month in Month out. Year in, year out. Years on end. How would you cope? Would you feel that life is hopeless? I don’t think the word “possibly” even should be considered here, as I can guarantee you, that is how you will feel. Anger is pointless as it will only attract a beating, from other inmates or from the wardens.

Then read the above quote again.

There’s a lot of meaning hidden in those two sentences. Would you be able to be so benevolent to those who took everything away from you, and I truly mean everything. Even the food you eat, being allowed a drink of water, basic needs like going to the toilet. At the mercy of someone else. Someone who might beat you with a baton, just because you tried to ask for something you today take for granted.

Read the above quote again.

In the movie, the second sentence has one word changed, probably to underline Nelson Mandela was a captive for so long. In the original, it says “captain” and not “captor”.

Here’s the original text of that poem:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Everyday, be the master of your fate, be the captain of your soul, then you can conquer any obstacle in your life.

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