There’s little doubt that Nelson Mandela was (indeed is) a man, memory, and example of the triumphant struggle for equal rights. Mandela, also known by his tribal name Madiba – which a term used as a sign of respect and affection - struggled to bring into the lives of others that which the preoccupied minds and deficient hearts of others suppressed. But indeed that conflict, the suppression of equality and opportunity - has been practiced by the educated, wealthy, and politically/religiously connected minority since humankind became aware of the “other”.
Those shackled by racism, poverty, and illiteracy span the entire globe – from pole-to-pole. These, the suppressed and ignored are indeed considered the “poor” – and if Jesus the Nazarene was correct – “the poor will be with us always.” We can only hope that Jesus was wrong, or at least what he said was misinterpreted. Perhaps what Jesus meant was this – “those who suppress the multitude for self-wealth and power are indeed the poor and they will be with us always.” Human kind has never lived in the arms of grace (literacy, peace, and honor) – for where there is war, poverty, racism, and the profound embrace of wealth – there will never be grace.
I found peace in the announcement of Madiba’s death – he was 95 years old, lived and loved in the arms of family, brought a people out of the arms of hate and anger into the sweet embrace of equality and opportunity. I want desperately to pass-on into those arms. Nelson rests in the peaceful arms of accomplishment and respect. But there are those who each and every day are grasped by death without any sense of accomplishment or respect – and there are many. Twenty-two thousand children die each and every day from the ignorance and disgrace of the world that surrounds them. These children die from preventable disease, starvation, and man’s forever conquering hero – war.
Mandela found peace in family, found joy in the success and peace of others – he is not alone. Mohandas Gandhi found peace in the stillness of self, the recognition of the unity of all humanity. Jesus the Nazarene revealed to those who follow logic and truth this simple fact – “what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters – you do to me.” And Martin Luther King revealed the essence of understanding human progression and equality with this statement – “judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin”. All of these men and many, many more – influence my interpretation of life and success.
I am sanctified by the life that surrounds me – I have never known a day without love. I have never been crushed by racism or the embrace of ignorance. Never fell into poverty – never hungry without resolve, never sick without cure, frequently lonely but never alone. The time will come when I will die and become one with One – I will be missed by those I’ve loved – matters not my name resounds world-wide – what matters most is that I will not be forgotten. Nelson Mandela - Madiba – lives on in freedom, because he is loved.