Nelson Mandela, One of the great men of history, certainly the most influential man of my lifetime, passed away last week. Though I only knew him through newscasts and articles, I have always felt close to this endearing man. He felt like a grandfather to me, one whose wisdom I yearned for, whose courage and convictions inspired me.
Perhaps what struck me most about Nelson Mandela was his capacity for forgiveness. After nearly thirty years in prison, times when he was often abused and certainly discouraged, He returned to his lifelong quest for democracy in South Africa even stronger in his resolve to forgive past transgressions and forge a new government based on equality.
Such was the immensity of this man’s grace that he forgave all his former captors, past abusers, everyone who had wronged him.
He forgave them, opened his heart and invited all people to join in harmony to build a new South African democracy. And through his singular vision and commitment to grace and good, his mission was realized.
I remember those years, the early 1990’s, when South Africa was a seething mass of animosity ready to explode at any moment. I watched the newscasts of riots and violence. I thought a bloody civil war was inevitable. But Nelson Mandela did not, and ultimately his calm and reasoned approach led to South African democracy.
His leadership prevailed. Good and grace triumphed.
I shall do my best to remember Nelson Mandela and his inspiring example of the powers of love and forgiveness.
A link to a poem read by Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus,