Friday, 22 April 2016

Lessons from George, Leonardo and Warren

This March found me reminiscing about my father, who passed away a decade ago. We had spent the day before his demise together, talking and generally reflecting on life.
From this conversation, or series of conversations, I learnt a lot of things about life but most importantly that a man is made of sterner stuff than an outward appearance of “being a man”. There should always be something that defines the individual, an X factor, which cannot be taken away from him, no matter the circumstance. Here are three men who have inspired my philosophical take on this aspect.

He had been in the hospital for a week following surgery. For some reason, he was calm and talked with the confidence of man who had run the race and fought the good fight. He was truly contented with the lemonade he made with the lemons life threw at him. Now on the hospital bed, he knew he was leaving this place in a pine box. So, he called his wife and children to say goodbye. He left them with a sealed envelope that contained a letter that would be read at his funeral instead of the speeches. Human beings fear death but George
had conquered the fear of death.

Leonardo is a very famous movie actor. He has been the star of many great films that got him several nominations for the top prize—an Oscar. However, when it seemed like he had bagged it with a stellar performance in a big budget production of the year (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Blood Diamond, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, among others), the accolade went to someone else. Oh, imagine the frustration of his fans! But what about him? Instead, he turns in an even better performance in the next movie. It was only a matter of time before he was recognised for The Revenant. And what does he do or rather say in his speech at the awards? He highlights climate change instead of gloating how he had finally made it. This is a man who has not let fame get in the way of what he believes in or for disappointment to make him bitter.

Besigye holds a baby during a procession on the 2016 campaigns 


Warren cannot be compared to Mandela or Gandhi but his struggle has ignited a movement for change. The people are weary of the status quo and identify with his courage and determination to make things better. Four times he has offered himself for election to the high office, but things have not gone his way. He has been subjected to all kinds of brutality, humiliation and persecution. Often times, he may feel he can’t breathe but the fresh air of imminent freedom keeps hope alive. This is a man who has inspired and will continue to inspire very many. I am confident that in the future, my sons will say, “Indeed, he was truly a great man.”