Nelson Mandela was not a god.
He was a man, a flawed man, no doubt. Just like the rest of us.
He had a body. He had a heart & a brain, hands & feet too. Just like us. When I look at him and I look at myself, there is a commonality that is undeniable – he was human. Just like me, just like you.
But then we all know there was something else about him…something that made him appear a little bit taller than the rest of us. Something different. Something we look for in ourselves. We saw it in him and we were drawn to it, this thing that turns ordinary men & women into super human icons.
Nelson Mandela believed in a cause. It is as simple as that. No matter how much we try to dress it up, it is only as simple as that. What is remarkable, however, is how he went about it.
Anybody can have a cause. In fact, most of us do. And maybe some of our hearts are fiery hot with the energy of it. But what does it all mean?
Mandela’s cause was to uphold the dignity of all peoples. The thing is, he was prepared to die for this cause. He was willing to forgive incredible injustice for it. He was willing to pour himself out for it. day after day after day. He showed up for it. consistently.
Sure, he had bad days where he probably held his head in his hands & felt sorry for himself & maybe even disappointment in the people he was fighting for but he never let the despair & the cynicism of the world erode his own humanity & that of others.
Because I know human nature I know this was never a walk in the park for him. But his belief in his cause was much stronger than the fear, doubt & judgement —the three things that hold us back & force us to jab at one another instead. The three things that keep us from being properly human.
My question is, what do we do now?
Courage, my comrades, courage. We grow us some courage.
The courage to disrupt injustice & inequity in whatever forms they come in, big or small. The courage to be properly human. To stop the fussing over image & status. To show up for the words that flow from your heart. Show up for others – the needy, the poor, the broken hearted. Lend a hand. Open your hand. & give. Show up again & again & again. We are definitely not ever going to solve the world’s problems in a day nor can we do it on our own. Like I said, this is going to be hard. So resilience is key. & courage.
Courage my comrades, courage.
Nelson Mandela made a mark on the world & on our minds & on our hearts because he carried a torch; strength of character.
And the day he died is the day he passed that torch, that baton to us. It is the day this heavy responsibility became ever more visible on our shoulders.
What will we do?