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The second weapon to guard your dignity

Posted in Uncategorized by Rashmi Datt on January 26th, 2014

Centering Yourself, and just being Impeccably Polite

There is a wonderful story about Mandela, which shows how even in circumstances where even though seemingly powerless- he still put his opponent on the defensive. All he did was to be so scrupulously polite, that there was no option but to reciprocate with politeness.
The prisoners in Robben Island made a representation to the prison authorities about their conditions of treatment. There was still no conclusion, when one morning, Mandela heard that in the main section, the prisoners had gone on hunger strike. The prisoners who delivered his breakfast whispered it to him.
Mandela and his group didn’t know why, but as their comrades were on hunger strike so they went on hunger strike.
The authorities immediately reacted- with punitive measure- the captives were shifted, and their books removed. The incensed commanding officer, Major Kellerman, came shouting: ‘Where’s Mandela?’
Reaching Mandela’s cell, he demanded: ‘Why are you on hunger strike?’
Mandela: ‘Colonel, can you and I sit down and discuss this?’
Kellerman stormed: ‘Mandela, I want to know now why you are on hunger strike when the discussions about conditions of your treatment are still going on.’
Mandela repeated: ‘Colonel, can we sit down calmly and discuss?’
The Colonel said: ‘No! No calmly! Tell me now!’
It would have been tempting to get into the reasons- but the outcome would still be an unpleasant argument which would have reached nowhere. So Mandela just recited the same line like a gramophone record with the needle stuck until the Colonel gave up and stomped off.
Mandela’s friends in prison who were watching had a good laugh afterwards.

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