Radical Joy Revealed
October 7, 2015

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela knew that a prisoner's worst enemy is not isolation, not humiliation, not lack of decent food or hygiene or the harsh punishment of guards. The worst enemy is the prisoner's own despair.
Therefore, from the very start of his sentence on Robben Island, Mandela refused to submit to powerlessness and waged a constant fight for rights for the South African political prisoners. Tirelessly he made demands of both the system and the prisoners, whom he urged to use the time behind bars to improve their lives. A few of the rights Mandela won:
1. better food (which meant food equal in quality to what "colored" and Indian prisoners got)
2. no hard manual labor
3. the right for the black prisoners to wear long trousers
4. the right to read newspapers
5. the right to have books in one's cell
6. the right for the political prisoners to talk among themselves
7. the right to study for higher degrees
8. the right to grow a garden
Mandela refused to capitulate to despair and kept saying yes to life. By the time he was freed twenty-seven years after he was incarcerated, he was already a great leader. (To learn more about Mandela's life, read his remarkable autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.)

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