NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 7, 2013

Reflecting on Mandela's life

Big Freddy was sitting with his eyes closed and his chins on his chest when I joined him for our mid-morning coffee and whatever.

“Are you asleep or dead?” I asked as I pushed my way into my side of the booth.

“I was cogitating about Nelson Mandela,” he said.

“Cogitating?” I asked. “Looked more like you were daydreaming.”

“Cogitating goes deeper than daydreaming,” Freddy said.

“And what, beside his death set you off?” I asked.

“The coverage,” Freddy said.

“It’s well warranted,” I said. “Great man, great story. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” Freddy said. “He changed more than his part of the world in his lifetime, without trying to get even. That’s more than something.”

“So have others in history – Mahatma Ghandi for one,” I said.

“And others as well, over time, but it took longer to get the word around back then,” Freddy said.

“I think you need a re-fill,” I said, as I waved to the waitress.

“Just suppose what life would have been like if there had been radio and television a couple of thousand of years ago,” Freddy said.

“I have enough trouble dealing with what life is like for too many today —never mind the past,” I said. “Ancient history is what it is, and what we’re doing and dealing with today is going to be ancient history for those living in the year 4013, if the world’s still habitable.”

“But think about it,” Freddy said. “We’re about to celebrate Christmas. OK, it’s not a holy day for everyone, but suppose TV had been around when Christ was born.”

“You’re kidding,” I said. “TV coverage of just a young couple having a baby in a stable way back then? Is that only coffee in your cup?”

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