Summary reflections: four famous people in history

“I think of figures like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel and Lech Walesa, […]. And at the present moment the unquestionable courage and patriotism of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stands out […]”

As much as their names are often lost in the fog of so much human misery that overwhelms the world from selfish and utilitarian positions, there are great figures of the 20th century who stood out for their political and human leadership, their altruism, their spirit of sacrifice, and a constant struggle against oppression. I am thinking of figures like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel and Lech Walesa, among others. And at the present time, the undeniable courage and patriotism of the president of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelenski (1978), lawyer and actor, stands out in the face of the bloody Russian invasion, encouraged by the despotic impulses of whom the United Nations has already called a “criminal of war”: the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.

Martin Luther King (1929 – assassinated on April 4, 1968), pastor of the Baptist Church and great fighter for the rights of blacks in the United States, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. A brave, stubborn mass leader, consistent with his pacifist philosophy, made humanism not only a lifestyle that would cost him his, but an example to follow in his country and in the world. Numerous phrases of his have survived him; I give three examples. The most famous: “I have a dream: that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the nature of their character.” There is also this: “What is worrying is not the perversity of the wicked, but the indifference of the good”; It is also worth mentioning: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity.”

On the other hand, I fervently admire and respect Nelson Mandela (1918-2003), an unrepeatable leader who knew how to bring peace, tolerance, forgiveness and order to his troubled country at a time when apartheid deprived South Africa to the detriment of the majority black population. Having compelling reasons to give free rein to the hatred that his imprisonment of more than two decades could have generated in his being (he was released in 1990), this lawyer, Marxist and later political leader with a broad vision managed to reconcile his people, after being elected in 1994 (his government ended in 1999) as the first black president chosen by universal suffrage.

He became one of the few leaders in the world who abjured the corruption and abuse of power prevailing in his country, earning the love and support of the entire population, and the world. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, seven years before coming to power. Among the many well-deserved distinctions he received are 50 honorary doctorates from various universities around the world. “Madiba”, his people affectionately called him. Mandela is, without a doubt, today more than ever, an example worth imitating.

I admire Václav Havel, born in Prague in 1936 in the former Czechoslovakia; dies in 2011. Playwright, essayist, poet and politician, he became the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and was the first to lead the new Czech Republic (1993-2003). After the famous Prague Spring (1968), he gained international notoriety for his leadership in favor of human rights during the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, as one of the main dissident pacifist leaders of the so-called Velvet Revolution in 1989. In Several times he was imprisoned, the longest period was between 1979 and 1984. Being president for the first time, he unsuccessfully opposed the division into two countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

He has received important national and international awards and recognitions, one of the most notorious: the Gandhi Peace Prize, in 2003. His motto has been: “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.” The fight of this man for the dignity of the human being and for the defense of his freedoms, both from the civil dissidence, as from the Presidency of his country and from literature -plays, essays, poems- is admirable from any point of view. of sight.

Finally, Lech Walesa (Popowo, Poland, 1943), today is 79 years old. An electrician by profession, he was a unique union leader, defender of human rights, tireless fighter against the communist regime of his country that could not break it; finally became a charismatic politician who was elected president (1990-1995): co-founder of Solidarity, the first independent union in the Soviet bloc, an entity that had a membership of more than ten million people, a record to date world. In 1983, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but for fear of not being able to return to his country, he was unable to personally collect the award (his wife did), and the amount was donated to Solidarity, whose leadership was temporarily isolated. in Brussels. During his rule, Poland became an independent, prosperous and free-market democratic country outside the nefarious Soviet control to which the dictator Putin today longs to return.

Short story writer, poet, essayist, cultural promoter.

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Summary reflections: four famous people in history