Movie review: Invictus

Invictus is the story of Nelson Mandela following his release from prison. After 27 years of wrongful imprisonment it would be very easy for him to be bitter and even revengeful toward his jailers. When he was voted in as president of South Africa he could have used his power to punish his oppressors. Instead, he used the “weapon” of forgiveness. His black countrymen were very bitter and ready to fight. But President Mandela encouraged them not only to forgive but embrace their oppressors as fellow countrymen. He acknowledged this as no small feat but challenged them to surprise their former enemies with their kindness and compassion.

Instead of the battlefield, Nelson Mandela used a playing field of rugby. Instead of fighting among themselves, he used the fierce competition with other countries to unite his own. This movie is a wonderful reminder of how one man can make an enormous difference. How did he do it? How was he able to forgive his captors and inspire a nation to do the same? A poem. In Happiness 101 I constantly remind students of their power of choice and educate and warn about Happiness Robbers, the agents of victimhood. Nelson Mandela chose. His choices reflect an unwaivering goal: to peacefully unite his nation.

Here is the poem that inspired Nelson Mandela. Let it do the same for you.

by William Ernest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Needless to say (but I am going to say it anyway), I highly recommend Invictus – especially if are ever feeling powerless or depressed.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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