What follows is the introduction to “Pursuing Maturity” – I am looking to post different chapters as they get completed. I guarantee this book will be vibrant with illustrations. I start with one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.
Pursuing Maturity Introduction
The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine
I grew up in South Africa and Nelson Mandela has been one of my heroes for many years. I personally feel a sense of gratitude to him for saving the land of my birth from becoming another Rwanda.
My formative years were spent under the heavy hand of apartheid. The ruling National Party was a brutal regime that allowed very little criticism and put down dissent with an austere and often vicious hand. They built up an impressive military, which I avoided serving in by exercising my US citizenship at the age of 18 and leaving the country. I was not willing to fight for the apartheid system and, in my mind that meant not making South Africa my future home. Many of my friends ended up in townships shooting at rioting crowds and some gave their lives fighting on South Africa’s borders with other nations.
Many of us knew the penalties of speaking up against the ruling government. The laws were carefully crafted to create an unfair advantage to the privileged white population and to control and oppress the black majority. We knew of the savage murder of Steve Biko in prison and of the terrible price other dissidents faced who tried to oppose or speak against the laws or governing systems. We also knew that South Africa had strengthened itself to withstand any outside invasion. It had developed nuclear weapons and even a strong air and naval force in addition to its massive army. It’s internal police were brutal and it seemed from inside and out to be an impenetrable regime.
So when Nelson Mandela, without the firing of a single shot, was able to bring down the apartheid government, it shook the world. From a prison cell, Mandela negotiated the conditions for a new South Africa. He transitioned from a prison to a palace and took over the leadership of a nation. There was nobody else with his stature who could have accomplished what he did and he did it because he had come to a place of “maturity”.
This book is about the benefits and rewards of pursuing a mature life. Mature people do great things for society. They also achieve a high degree of personal fulfillment. The target audience of this book is Christians and so I will draw a good bit of inspiration from the Bible. One of the greatest criticisms I hear about people of faith is that they are unbalanced and often unstable. Many believers also are not good at articulating their faith in a way that makes sense to the rest of society. Hopefully this book will inspire Christians to pursue a place of balance and wisdom, a place, like Mandela, of “maturity”.