Yesterday, we learned about the passing of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of England. This is a woman who, along with Ronald Reagan, brought the mighty Soviet Union to its knees. She was an ardent defender of the free market. She was a great many wonderful things.
She was also human.
While Facebook and other social media sites were abuzz with Thatcher quotes, some sought to trot out lines from her that were less than flattering. There was a mention of Nelson Mandella being a terrorist, for one.
Thatcher, like anyone else in the public light, is a human being who makes mistakes. She, like anyone else, said things that look ridiculous through the lens of hindsight.
William Shakespeare wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” That was in Julius Caesar, but it may well apply to any one of us. Who among us is blameless in this life? Who among us hasn’t said something that later just looked ridiculous?
I know I have.
Now, I’m not saying that these things should be ignored. Instead, I’m saying that there is a time for them, and the day someone dies is probably not it. How would you like it if your foibles became a public display on the day you died? Much of my life the last couple of years has involved a lot of comments made publicly. In time, some of them might sound equally ridiculous. I don’t hide from things I’ve said, but please wait until I’ve been dead a few days before rubbing my loved ones’ noses in it.
What gets me the most is that Thatcher uttered some of the most memorable quotes against socialism and in favor of capitalism ever. One of my favorites is, “The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money”. It was succinct and accurate. It’s one of the best quotes about socialism I’ve personally ever encountered in my opinion. Yet, some of the people who are trotting out the bit about Mandela being a terrorist is someone who agreed with Thatcher on this kind of thing.
So, the question is, was Nelson a terrorist? Well, he did admit to committing acts of sabotage, though he denied charges that he was trying to overthrow the government of South Africa. In a lot of people’s minds, that makes him a terrorist. It’s at least a valid topic for debate if nothing else, and far from grounds to ridicule a woman on the day she died for believing he was.
The evil that men do may well live after them, but things they said that people disagree with them are downright immortal it seems.