I do not pretend that Nelson Mandela is perfect. What I do affirm is the astounding way he has resisted the urge to respond in kind. Imagine spending 30 years in prison under an oppressive regime -- 30 years -- then upon your release, walking out and committing to rebuild a nation through peaceful means. Has the African National Congress always operated without violence? Of course not. But if Mandela had responded to apartheid in the same spirit, my sense is that the nation of South Africa would have been completely consumed in violence and civil war.
This Nobel Peace Prize recipient turned 90 years old on July 18, and was celebrated by a huge crowd at a concert in London's Hyde Park.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandela. My hat is off to you, one of the stateliest statesmen I know.
Click here to watch a 4-minute audio slideshow of this man's extraordinary life.