Ethos Education

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: A Better Path

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Assembly Objective:

  • Does revenge hurt the person who seeks it, just as much as the person on whom they get revenge? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about the liberating power of forgiveness.

Film:

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Pathe, 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms each person’s right to self-determination, but the values of Democracy, Respect and Tolerance call us to live as part of a community. This assembly encourages pupils to consider how the choices they make affect themselves and other people. 

OPENING ACTIVITY

How vengeful are you? (quiz)

Download the Vengeful PowerPoint for use with this activity.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Tell the students that you want them to take part in a multiple choice quiz to reveal their attitude towards revenge. For each question, ask them to put up their hands to indicate which answer is the closest to what they think they might do. Ask them to make a mental note of whether their answers tend mostly towards a, b, c or d.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Question one: A friend’s parents find cigarettes in his bedroom, and he says he was hiding them for you. They tell your parents. What do you do?
    • [click] option a: Wait for a chance to plant cigarettes on your friend at school so that he gets into just as much trouble as you.
    • [click] option b: Tell your parents that the cigarettes aren’t yours, and that your friend is really into things a lot stronger than cigarettes, and maybe they should tell his parents about that.
    • [click] option c: Persuade your parents that it isn’t true, and talk to your friend about why they tried to get you in trouble.
    • [click] option d: Admit that the cigarettes were yours, even though they weren’t, and take whatever punishment comes your way.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Question two: Someone plays a practical joke on the teacher, and the whole class gets kept in over break time as a punishment because nobody will own up to being responsible. What do you do?
    • [click] option a: Tell the teacher who it was who played the trick on them.
    • [click] option b: Wait until after school with several friends, grab the person who played the trick, steal all their clothes and leave them naked on the games field. Let’s see them let others take the blame for that.
    • [click] option c: Say that you don’t think it fair for everyone to be punished, ask for people to put their hands up if they want the real culprit to own up and hope that their conscience makes them come clean.
    • [click] option d: Admit that it was you who played the trick (it wasn’t) and take the blame so everyone else can have their break time.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Question three: Your boy or girlfriend breaks up with you and starts going out with your best friend. What do you do?
    • [click] option a: Wait for a chance to steal your boy or girlfriend back.
    • [click] option b: Sneak into his/her house and rub chilli peppers on the inside of his/her underpants.
    • [click] option c: Talk to them about how they have made you feel, but then get on with your life and let them get on with theirs.
    • [click] option d: Good luck to them; their happiness is probably more important than yours anyway.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Question four: One of your friends borrows and breaks your favourite CD. What do you do?
    • [click] option a: Borrow one of her CDs and break that too.
    • [click] option b: Take every CD that she owns out of her room and sell them at a car-boot sale, then use the money to replace your broken CD and buy several others.
    • [click] option c: Say that it’s okay, but ask if she can buy a replacement copy for you.
    • [click] option d: Say that you didn’t like it all that much anyway, and offer her any other CDs you own as well.
    • Now go through the remaining four slides to say what the students’ answers reveal about them.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Mostly A: You believe in paying back whatever anyone does just as hard. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, even if the whole world ends up blind and gumsy.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Mostly B: Never mind an eye for an eye; with you it’s a head for an eye, and a full on war for a tooth. When someone messes with you, you fight back ten times as hard. Let’s just hope they don’t have the same approach.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Mostly C: You don’t cause trouble where it isn’t needed, but you don’t let people take liberties either. When there’s a problem, you just want to sort it out as quickly as possible.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Mostly D: You don’t like to cause any trouble. The only problem is that makes you a bit of a doormat who some people choose to walk all over.

Scorpion Tale (something to listen to)

  • Tell the students the story of the scorpion and the frog:
  • There was once a scorpion who wanted to cross a wide, powerful river. He knew that he had no way of getting across on his own, so he asked a frog to carry him on his back.
  • ‘No way!’ said the frog. ‘You’re a scorpion – if I let you onto my back you’ll just poison me with your sting and I’ll be dead.’
  • ‘Don’t be silly,’ replied the scorpion. If I sting you, you’ll sink beneath the water and I’ll drown. We would both be dead. Why would I do something that led to my own death?’
  • This convinced the frog, so they set off on their journey across the river. Half way across, the scorpion plunged its sting deep into the frog’s back. With its dying breath the frog turned its head and gasped a single word: ‘Why?’
  • The scorpion shrugged. ‘What can I say? I’m a scorpion. It’s my nature – there’s no fighting that.’ And with that, the pair of them sank beneath the river to their watery graves.
  • Explain that in the story, the scorpion couldn’t help itself but to sting the frog, even though the consequences of that action would result in the scorpion’s own death. In today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the consequences of our actions against people who do us wrong.

FILM CLIP 

  • Play the clip from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Pathe, 2014, certificate 12).
    • Start time:       1.39.16 (in chapter 18 of the DVD)
    • End time:         1.41.19
    • Clip length:     2 minutes and 3 seconds
  • The clip starts with Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) saying, ‘You have the most powerful army in Africa’. It ends with him saying, ‘When we come to power, there will be no revenge.’
  • The clip shows Nelson Mandela in secret talks with leaders of the white South African government, explaining why he would choose not to seek revenge if black South Africans were given power over the whites. It also shows his ANC colleagues expressing disbelief that Mandela could sit down with the people who have persecuted him.

TALK

Download the Revenge Long Walk PowerPoint with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • [If you used the Scorpion Tale opening activity, say, ‘The Scorpion couldn’t help himself, but does that mean that lashing out is always the only option for us?’ If not, just continue with the following text] Sometimes we want to get our own back on people, to take revenge for the things they’ve done that have hurt us. That’s understandable, but is that the best thing for us to do? I’m not talking here about being nice, about giving people a second chance for their sakes. I’m talking about self-interest: when we’re tempted to seek revenge against someone, how does that affect us?
    • Here’s a film clip to illustrate the point. It’s from the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In this scene Nelson Mandela has spent the last 25 years in prison, and has been offered the chance to enter into secret talks with the South African government. His friends have told him to have nothing to do with the talks, but he has ignored their advice. Watch out for what Mandela says about what he wants and why he is choosing a different path.
    • Play the clip from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom:
      • Start time:       1.39.16 (in chapter 18 of the DVD)
      • End time:         1.41.19
      • Clip length:      2 minutes and 3 seconds
    • The clip starts with Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) saying, ‘You have the most powerful army in Africa’. It ends with him saying, ‘When we come to power, there will be no revenge.’
    • If you can’t play the clip, say, ‘When the Government men ask Mandela if he wants revenge, he admits that he does, but also points out that if black South Africans take revenge when they get power, they will be as trapped by fear as the white South Africans are. Mandela doesn’t want fear to make his people cruel and violent, so he has resolved to turn away from revenge.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Did you notice the reasons Nelson Mandela gave for not seeking revenge. It wasn’t that he didn’t want revenge – he says that he does want to get his own back for all the terrible things done to him and to his people. But he recognises that if he allows himself to go down that road, it leads to a bad place.
    • Mandela observed that the white rulers lived in fear of the black people that they oppressed:
    • [click] ‘I have seen what fear has done to your people. You have always been afraid of us and it has made you an unjust and brutal people. Now, consider our position. We know that one day we will be free and we will be the rulers of our country, but do we want to live in the same hell as you do now? That would be to lock ourselves back into prison, and our children and generations after that.’
    • Mandela wanted revenge, but more than that he wanted to be free from the prison that revenge would lock him and his people into. The only way out was to break the cycle of hatred.
    • The Bible would agree with Nelson Mandela that revenge doesn’t work out well for anyone, that there’s another, better, way.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-18, 21, New Living Translation.
    • The Bible has lots to say about forgiving people, about showing them a better way and noble, selfless things like that. But it also makes it clear that not seeking revenge is about what’s best for us. When we give in to the temptation to hit back at others, we’re not conquering evil, we’re letting evil conquer us. As Nelson Mandela summed it up, we’re allowing our fear to make us something less than we should be. If we want to conquer evil in our own lives, we have to turn our back on revenge.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • That’s easy to say, but it’s hard to put it into practice. It’s not a once only decision, it’s a day-in, day-out process of choosing, over and over again not to hit back. The story of modern South Africa shows the power of choosing reconciliation over revenge, but it can be seen in millions of individual lives too. [click] The only question for us is this: do I want my life to be one of them.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Revenge Long Walk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Refer to Scorpion Tale opening activity, if used.
    • Sometimes we want revenge.
      • Is that the best thing for us?
      • This isn’t about being nice to others, it’s about self interest.
      • How does revenge affect us?
    • Introduce film clip:
      • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
      • Nelson Mandela in secret talks with South African government.
      • Mandela says why he is rejecting revenge.
      • Play the clip
        • Start time:       1.39.16 (in chapter 18 of the DVD)
        • End time:         1.41.19
        • Clip length:      2 minutes and 3 seconds
      • The clip starts with Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) saying, ‘You have the most powerful army in Africa’. It ends with him saying, ‘When we come to power, there will be no revenge.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Mandela’s reason for rejecting revenge:
      • Not that he didn’t want revenge.
      • He sees revenge leads him to a bad place.
      • Oppressing the blacks made the whites live in fear.
      • [click] ‘I have seen what fear has done to your people. You have always been afraid of us and it has made you an unjust and brutal people. Now, consider our position. We know that one day we will be free and we will be the rulers of our country, but do we want to live in the same hell as you do now? That would be to lock ourselves back into prison, and our children and generations after that’.
      • Revenge would lock his people into a different prison.
      • The only way to be free was to break the cycle of hatred.
    • The Bible agrees that there’s a better way than revenge.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-18, 21, New Living Translation.
    • The Bible says it’s good to forgive.
      • Also says that not seeking revenge is about what’s best for us.
      • When we hit back, we’re not conquering evil, we’re being conquered by it.
      • As Nelson Mandela says, we allow fear to make us less than we should be.
      • To conquer evil in our lives, we can’t indulge in revenge.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Easy to say, hard to put into practice.
      • Not a one-off decision but a day-in, day-out process.
      • South Africa shows the power of reconciliation over revenge.
      • Seen in millions of individual lives too.
      • [click] Do I want my life to be one of them?

Photo Copyright for Vengeful PowerPoint: Slides 6-9 iStockphoto.com

Photo Copyright for Revenge Long Walk PowerPoint: Slide 2 The Weinstein Company / Slide 4 iStockphoto.com


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thanks that there is an alternative to seeking revenge, and that this alternative is better for us as well as for the people who have wronged us. Help all of us to avoid being conquered by the temptation to do evil, and to conquer evil by doing good. Amen.

Reflection

  • Could you relate to Nelson Mandela’s words about the effects of revenge? Have you ever taken revenge on someone and regretted it later? How would you do things differently if you had the chance to go back and change things?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Pathe, 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Vengeful PowerPoint.
  3. Revenge Long Walk PowerPoint.

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