now that you are free, don’t become their prisoner…

The day that Mandela was released from prison on Robben Island, Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, was watching the news. He quickly called his wife and daughter and said, “You must see this, it is historic.” As Mandela stepped out, Clinton saw a flush of anger on his face as he looked at the people watching; then it disappeared. Later, when Clinton was president of the United States and Mandela was president of South Africa, the two leaders met, and Clinton relayed his observation during Mandela’s release from prison. And because Mandela had always been a model of reconciliation with no spirit of revenge or negativism, President Clinton candidly asked him to explain what seemed to have occurred on that day. President Mandela replied, “Yes, you are right. When I was in prison, the son of a guard started a Bible study and I attended; … and that day when I stepped out of prison and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit me with the thought that they had robbed me of twenty-seven years. Then the Spirit of Jesus said to me, ‘Nelson, while you were in prison you were free; now that you are free, don’t become their prisoner.’

– From Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl’s Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work by Alex Pattakos Ph.D

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