What can I say about the passing of Nelson Mandela that would add to the constant news stream and testimonials that have been coming for nearly a week now.
It's hard to fathom, but there was a time when Mandela was not as supported by the world community, particularly the US under Reagan's administration. I wrote my thesis on Mandela and the Reagan administration's policies: Constructive engagement on trail [i.e. trial] : a social-ethical analysis of United States foreign policy towards South Africa during the Reagan administration.
When I think of Mandela, I think of his quiet dignity, his incredible strength and his long journey towards justice. For me, and for others, Mandela's most unbelievable accomplishment was leaving prison with no hate or need for vengeance in his heart.
Imagine being locked in that small room for 27 years, unjustly, and when finally you are set free to live what's left of your life, you rise above all hate, anger and bitterness and set an example of peace: in your mind, heart and, finally, your country.
I heard one newscaster say, "Mandela is now at peace", but we know he found peace long before he passed away. He found inner peace that allowed him to transcend history and bring an entire nation together.
Mandela will be remembered in history for many things as he should be. We must not just remember him, but we must remember what he taught us: dignity, kindness, strength of spirit, courage, laughter, and the patience to know that his years in prison would one day end and that his actions when he left would set the future on its course.
Mandela fought for justice, equality and for the dignity of his fellow countrymen both black and white.
May his example and smile remain in our minds as we face our own struggles.