Saturday, December 07, 2013

Writing on discontent in Brazil & on Nelson Mandela - by Thompson, Posnanski, Jones & Gingrich

Two days ago there was a great piece of writing on political discontent in Brazil that felt to be connected to other excellent work I've seen since the passing two days ago of Nelson Mandela.

The piece on Brazil was by Wright Thompson for ESPN and a fascinating look at the country's highly volatile social climate fed by government corruption and violence along with huge income inequality. "Generation June" will be in an upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine and was named out of the million-plus protesters who took to the streets last year during the Confederations Cup tournament leading into the 2014 World Cup hosted there. The piece brought to mind for me both Thompson's earlier this year feature "When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly" (which I wrote about in a post that also linked to my prior blog entry on writing about political discontent) and below is from Thompson's recent piece leading into next summer's World Cup...

"Last month, when I went to Brazil looking for clues about what might happen next summer, I found all the players assembled for a battle that happens over and over again. It's reborn in every place and in every time, yet it still manages to surprise us, whether it's the cafés of Paris in 1788 or the mountains of Cuba in 1957, or perhaps, San Francisco in 1967. Brazil in the shadow of the World Cup is one of those places, and right now is one of those times. The weird energy makes sense after a while: the alchemy of a dedicated minority of a generation first believing it can change a country, and being willing to derail the world's most famous sporting event to do so, set against the menace and authority of a nation willing to use violence to protect itself from the folly of youth."

Related to this concept of battling oppression, inequality and injustice, but doing so in a way almost too magnanimous to be believed if in a movie, was writing done after the recent passing of Nelson Mandela. Prior to becoming President of South Africa, Mandela spent decades in prison for his activism against apartheid and upon his release he very publicly forgave his oppressors and by setting aside the injustices done to him showed his country a model for reconciliation. Impactful writing I've seen in the past few days on Mandela included pieces by Joe Posnanski, Chris Jones and Newt Gingrich.

For the NBC Sports website, Posnanski wrote "Honoring Mandela's Resolve Through Bleak Lens of Robben Island" about visiting the prison where Mandela held for 18 years and prior to Mandela's death, Jones for Esquire wrote "Nelson Mandela's Dream Will Prevail" on how his legacy should hopefully continue to maintain relative piece in South Africa despite the income equality and legacy of oppression. The last piece on Mandela to note here was from a source I wouldn't have expected to to be linking to, but Newt Gingrich posted to his website the interesting "What Would You Have Done? Nelson Mandela and American Conservatives" that began as follows...

"Yesterday I issued a heartfelt and personal statement about the passing of President Nelson Mandela. I said that his family and his country would be in my prayers and Callista’s prayers. I was surprised by the hostility and vehemence of some of the people who reacted to me saying a kind word about a unique historic figure. So let me say to those conservatives who don’t want to honor Nelson Mandela, what would you have done?"