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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

At times it was quite painful that your whiteness, whether you liked it or not, followed you all the way through. Even when I was blown up afterwards, my white body counted for more than the bodies of black people who were blown up, who were tortured far more severely than I was tortured. The world, the press, the media, controlled by people -- white themselves -- seeing the world through white eyes. Not even maliciously, just automatically. That's their standpoint, their point of reference. And so my amputation, my body counted for something. And then I had to think, "Well, what do I do about it?" And I said, "Well, it gives me access. It gives me a chance to speak." The New York Times had a full page spread, "Broken But Unbroken," with a lovely picture. At least I can be like an ambassador for all the others whose voices aren't heard. I must use this space and opportunities that they've got, even if they come with a privilege, to fight for justice in our country. But at times it was painful, even in prison.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

I might say I discovered years later, after democracy was beginning to come to South Africa, and I was interviewed by Anthony Lewis, a columnist for The New York Times, about my attitude to the white guards and the others, and I explained that I felt I ought to be more angry than I was. And I said, "There's something wrong with me." He said, "You know, I've just spoken to Nelson Mandela. He said the same thing. And I've spoken to Walter Sisulu -- said the same thing -- and Ahmed Kathrada, who said the same thing." And I realized I belonged to a culture, a generation based on the values of the Freedom Charter. We were fighting against a system, a system of injustice. We weren't fighting against a race. We were fighting for a better country, a better society. That system, which had not only oppressed and imprisoned black people in terms of their hopes and their possibilities, but imprisoned whites in fear and narrowness and inwardness and arrogance and greed. That's what liberation meant. That's what emancipation meant.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

And he (Oliver Tambo) said, "We've captured a number of people who were sent from Pretoria to destroy the organization. And we don't have any regulations about how they should be treated. The ANC is a political organization. It has an annual general meeting in terms of its statutes, and elects its leadership. You pay your subscription. You agree to the aims and objects. Political parties don't have provisions for locking people up and putting them on trial and deciding what to do with them. Can you help us?" And possibly the most important project -- legal project -- of my life emerged from that. He said, "It's very difficult, isn't it, to know what the standards are for treatment of captives?" In a rather cocky way, I said, "Well, not so difficult. We have international instruments that say no torture, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment." He said, "We use torture." I couldn't believe it. ANC -- fighting for freedom -- we use torture? He said it with a bleak face, and that was why he wanted me in there because what to do about it? The security people had captured these rascals who were trying to blow up the leadership and introduce poison and do all sorts of terrible things. They were beating them up. I didn't know at the time. I didn't know the details. They did emerge later, but he knew the details. And so we prepared our whole document, which was nothing short of a code of criminal law and procedure for a liberation movement in exile, without courts, without police force, without prisons. But how to deal with those people. The host country said, "It's your problem. Our courts are busy enough. You deal with it." So we had to establish a code of legality, and a concept of fundamental human rights. Fundamental human rights. No torture, no abuse, no ill treatment, whoever they are, whatever they're trying to do.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

The ANC had a delegates conference, basically ANC people in exile -- a few from underground in South Africa -- in a small town called Kabwe in central Zambia. And we were surrounded by Zambian troops, in case commandos from the apartheid government regime came to take us all out and destroy us. We were discussing a future democracy in South Africa and fundamental rights for everybody. But in particular, we were discussing what to do with captives who'd been sent to destroy us and kill us, and should it be possible to use what were called -- euphemistically called -- intensive methods of interrogation. And one by one, I still remember so strongly the delegates coming. Some of them were in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, young people, and saying, "No. We don't use torture whatever the circumstances, whoever the enemy is, whatever the dangers, because we're not like that. We are fighting for life. How can we be against life and disrespect the human personality even of those sent to kill us and destroy us?" I felt so proud. As a lawyer I felt, you know, we lawyers, we speak about rule of law and no torture, and it's easy for us in our relatively comfortable lives. These were people risking danger every day in their work and their lives -- from very, very poor backgrounds -- insisting on those core elements that kept us together as an organization. We didn't want to become like the others.
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Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and Author

Oliver Sacks: I think my parents were puzzled. When I finished my training, and I was 32, I went into a chronic disease hospital -- institution. And I think my parents were both rather surprised at that, because their contact had especially been with patients in the real world. But at that point, I think I needed to see people who had spent much of their lives in institutions of this sort. I think when I got deeper and deeper into contact with my Awakenings patients, they saw that this was a different sort of medicine. Different from theirs, but romantic in its own way, dedicated in its own way. So I think they were sort of worried. I remember when my first book came out -- Migraine --on the day of publication, my father burst into the room. He was trembling. He was ashen. He was holding The Times of London. He says, "There's an article about you in the newspaper. There's an article about the book." And although the article was a very nice article and sort of said kind things about the book, my father was actually somewhat shocked, because the notion was that, as a doctor, you should have a low profile. You shouldn't publish. And for years after that, I always misread the word "publishable" as "punishable." There was quite a lot of ambivalence, and again, I wasn't sure myself of the proprieties of telling the stories of my patients. Even though I would get formal consent, this involves an exposure or a disclosure. I've had this concern all the time, but I can only hope that if one writes with appreciation and delicacy and respect, then it's okay. I have to say that I've written a hundred times as much as I've published, because if there's any thought of offense or embarrassment, then I will put the thing quietly away.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

The idea of evolution by design, designing the future, anticipating the future. I think of the need for more wisdom in the world, to deal with the knowledge that we have. At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge? I define wisdom as the capacity to make retrospective judgments prospectively. I think these are human qualities, human attributes that need to be brought out, need to be drawn upon, need to be valued.
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