There’s nothing I can write here that most of you haven’t already seen, heard or read. I may be among the masses writing about the great Nelson Mandela today. The thing is, I don’t much care. As a collective group of human beings, there are not enough words that can be written or spoken about this man that can ever repay him for all the good he graced us with. But in an effort not to bore you, I thought I’d share the best lesson I believe we should take from this dignified man. It’s one that I hope is passed on and taught to our children.
Last night, I took some time to read a book I’d purchased a few months back, “Nelson Mandela: In His Own Words, From Freedom to the Future.” It is a collection of Mr. Mandela’s speeches, some of the most inspiring and smart words to come from the pen of a human being. As much as society needs a serious wake-up call to what is important, fair and just in life, there is also so much good that wouldn’t be known without Mr. Mandela. Today, I hope many people are celebrating the life of this man, not mourning him. For without him, our world would not know unity and peace in the way that we do.
Acceptance has always been a hugely important thing to me. It is a quality I strive (not always successfully) to hold in my everyday. As a lover of different cultures and people, different ideas and beliefs, different cities and countries, I wish more people realized the greatness that comes from our differences. We do not always have to be in agreeance, but each and every opinion is beyond valuable. Imagine our world without these differences of culture? What would the earth look like without beautiful cities to explore and sights to see? The great history that belongs to our species would not be the same.
I challenge you to picture our world in uniform. Replicated cities, the same groups of people, a strict schedule filled with practices that are the same in every corner of the earth, the same foods, drinks, animals, houses, cars. Boring, right? Even ugly? That’s because the beauty of our world lies in the differences.
I think this is the quality I admire most about Mr. Mandela. His ability to accept every living being, short or tall, white or black, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist. Even his most evil captors, the people who did him the most terrible of wrongs, he was able to accept and forgive. This is the best inspiration I have taken from the life of Mr. Mandela, and it is my hope that others learn this from him as well. The only solution to argument over difference of beliefs, practices and ways of life is to stop fighting and simply accept that our world is better because of our differences.
Our world today is one filled with too much bitterness and too many people that hold a grudge over the silliest of things. Mr. Mandela knew the worst kind of treatment there could possibly be by fellow human beings. After 27 years of imprisonment, he forgave his captors. To have this peaceful and accepting heart is something that our world needs more of. Less judgment, more acceptance.
So thank you, Mr. Mandela, for the many lessons you have given us. Without your brave, forgiving soul, I’m not sure where we would be as a human race.
(Image via The Telegraph; edits and text by me)