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Out of My Head

Mandela, Monroe more alike than we might think

August 7th, 2012 8:43 am by Jan Hearne

On Aug. 5, 1962, Nelson Mandela, leader in the African National Congress, which was dedicated to protesting apartheid in South Africa, was arrested after evading authorities for 17 months. Following his arrest, he ultimately spent 27 years in prison.
On Aug. 5, 1962, the day Mandela entered prison, Marilyn Monroe found release from hers, dying of a drug overdose. Whether it was intentional, accidental or forced remains a subject of debate. During her lifetime, Marilyn was known for her luminous beauty; in the years since her death, she has become known also for her wit and wisdom.
It occurred to me if Marilyn and Mandela had met, they would have a deep respect for one another. She would admire Mandela’s great strength and spirit, and he would have recognized the same in her.
Though Marilyn didn’t necessarily speak as eloquently as Mandela, the two sometimes saw life in the same way.
These are their words:
Mandela: There is no passion to be found playing small.
Marilyn: Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring. ... I am just a girl who wishes for the world.
Mandela: A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.
Marilyn: I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night — there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.
Mandela: I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
Marilyn: I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil.
Mandela: Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
Marilyn: Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn’t that way.
Mandela: There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph ...
Marilyn: I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they’re right ... and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
Mandela: The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Marilyn: Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will?
Mandela: “Appearance matters — and remember to smile.”
Marilyn: So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling ...
Mandela: We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and famous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Marilyn: We are all stars, and we deserve to twinkle.

Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at

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