Tragically -- and it is indeed one of the great tragedies of American history -- as soon as he became president, Obama left behind that powerful force of the spirit into which he'd tapped as a candidate. As the Republicans tried out their "make him fail" strategy in opposition, he did nothing to rally America to its better angels.
I have learned this through decades of research and development on identity and leadership. Leaders with strong identities stay steady while others falter. They can handle the eventual necessary transfer of power, because who they are is not dependent on external factors or outside opinions. They validate themselves.
This is a good week to unpack Mandela's succinct description of what his jail cell allowed him to do and of what true leadership really is. Let's examine ourselves by these simple words. And let's ask these questions of both ourselves and of our political leaders -- especially as we go to vote.
No one can say with certainty how many Africans have been deterred from condom use and fallen victim to HIV. Given the church's size and influence in the region, and given the 30 million AIDS dead, the number cannot be small.
True pioneers are fuelled by their vision of how a new world could be, and dare to take on what has never been done before. Now, when so few people have any vision at all of the future, the pioneering spirit embodies the kind of leadership so deeply needed on the planet.
Take a minute the next time you're stuck behind that school bus to be thankful that you can read and participate in our society fully. Make time to read to children. Consider volunteering for the adult literacy program in your area. And read something fun, just because you can.
I first came to South Africa in 1995 after Mandela's release. I had never set foot in Apartheid South Africa.
Poetry can keep our spirits resilient and able to sustain us -- literally, for a happy life -- even to live at all.
We need experienced leaders who can plot out a principled, unified direction for our future, articulate objectives that create good for all of us, and draw the nation together in a shared vision. Our elected officials have let us down in this department. We do have one remarkable, untapped resource for such leadership.
Hinduism has a beautiful myth about the origins of love. In the beginning, there was a superbeing called Purusha. This being was without desire, craving, fear, or indeed the impulse to do anything at all--since the universe was already perfect and complete.
Happy birthday to South Africa's freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada! "Kathy" -- as he's well known there -- turned a robust 85-years-old on August 21. He is the premiere guide and custodian of the history of infamous Robben Island, where he and Nelson Mandela were unjustly imprisoned for 18 years.
Kinky Friedman: Well, for one thing I'm going totally f**king deaf, which is a good thing. I only care about two things, and they are Libya and Charlie Sheen. Also, if you're going deaf and you're imaginative, you can think of more interesting things for people to say rather than what they're really saying.
Like establishing a garden or writing a book, building a patio in an uncertain world is an exercise in enlisting the passage of time to advantage: an act of faith.
Support for Death With Dignity from across the ocean is encouraging. And when it comes from Desmond Tutu it carries a particularly gratifying weight.
Art has a way of sneaking up on us, getting under the skin and stripping off the confusion, cowardice and fear that holds us back from our most authentic actions. The artist's approach takes many forms from stealthy to direct.