In the second chapter of the Soul of a Citizen, the author describes that there is something fundamentally more unique than self-interest goals going on inside humans. Instead of selfish private affairs, we humans want to, or prefer to, find ways to connect with others around us. Expressing our own feelings and purpose to others and encouraging their wants and goals as well. However, there is something stopping us from doing so. “Chief among the obstacles to acting on these impulses is the mistaken belief that anyone who takes a committed public stand … has to be a larger-than-life figure….” (Soul 42). The author describes how Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t defend his clients as a lawyer because of shyness and timid nature. However, as we all know he became a leader for social change in India.
The author of the Soul of a Citizen Sonya Tinsley stating seeing the failures of many the great leaders it is reassuring because they’ve achieved so much. Eventually stating she was inspired by those same failures. “’But I’m much more inspired learning how people succeeded despite their failings and uncertainties. It’s a much less intimidating image. It makes me feel like I have a shot at changing things, too’” (Soul 45). Society does place an unachievable status that normal people couldn’t achieve. Especially when the examples of those leaders failing are not discussed. A barrier appears that stops people for reaching that point, separating in our minds the difference between leaders and followers, like Martin Luther King. Thus, similar to what the author states, everyday people can’t imagine how they can make a difference or impact in the world.
Nelson Mandela also had similar idea in connect to Soul of a Citizen. Mandela, while forced to be a political prisoner, created connections with other members inside the prison. According to him, the greatest mistake was allowing them to connect with each other because together their determination was fortified. However, Mandela also wanted to be friendly to everyone around him even the prison guards, and attempted to educate them as well. “It was ANC [African Nation Congress] policy to try to educate all people, even our enemies; we believed that all men, even prison service warders, were capable of change….” (Mandela 79). At times, no one wanted to speak to the prison guards because they seemed harsh, but eventually they got know one another and eventually relaxed. Even to the point where they could educate some of the guards on their different points of view.
Mandela also describes his life inside the prison system and how he aimed to educate people. He claimed since most were working for the government, they had likely been brainwashed. So, Mandela and group of connections he made, explain their idea of non-racialism, equal rights, and so forth. Having spent years in prison he realized his oppressors also needed to be liberated as much as he did. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred; he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness” (Mandela 81). I agree with Mandela on this point those who decided to have charged and sentenced to prison were also locked behind bars figuratively. The unwillingness to accept a different point of view, would have created a similar situation for those involved.