“He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.”
President Obama’s words keep replaying in my mind as I reflect on the life and loss of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela had every reason to be angry. On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a racist court for crimes he didn’t commit. Upon sentencing, he is quoted as saying:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live, and to see realized. But my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
He ultimately served 27 years in prison.
Had he chosen to lead a violent uprising against the racial injustices of Apartheid regime upon his release, he would have been justified and likely forgiven by the world. That is what most lesser men or women would have done if they were in his position.
Not Nelson Mandela.
Like Martin Luther King, Jr, he understood that lasting change could only be achieved through peaceful and non-violent resistance to the forces of injustice in the world.
“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.” Nelson Mandela, 1990
Statements of remembrance and support for Nelson Mandela’s family are pouring onto the airwaves by World leaders, celebrities and ordinary citizens alike.
One of my favorites was made a short while ago by Civil Rights leader and host of MSNBC’s “Politics Nation“. I apologize for paraphrasing, but it was a passing comment and has not made it to the internet yet.
Sharpton said “God blessed Nelson Mandela with a long enough life to be able to see the changes he had made in the world.”
President Clinton said: “All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived. He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life’s real victories must be shared.”
I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of love, respect and honor being shown as we mourn the loss of this great man. Your work here on Earth is finished, and you are now free to enjoy the eternal rest that you deserve.
Those of us alive today and those yet to come, will continue to enjoy the peace you helped bring to the world and strive to finally bring your dream of a unified and peaceful society to fruition.
My thoughts and best wishes are with the Mandela family in this time of mourning. Thank you for sharing Madiba with the world.