Without the leadership of Nelson Mandela, there is no doubt that South Africa would have descended into chaos. He turned the looming prospect of turmoil and upheaval into a beacon of light for the nations.
The amazing courage he exemplified in his lifetime, together with his great spirit, which enabled him to embrace his enemies — made him one of the greatest men in history — leading the way forward to peace and justice.
He was born into a tribal royal family, but spent his early years tending sheep in the hills. He became a boxer, then a lawyer.
He started the armed wing of the ANC, launching a course of armed struggle. He spent 27 years in brutal prisonment.
Upon his release from prison, he set South Africa not on a course of vengeance, but instead on a course of reconciliation. The Truth and Reconciliation hearings that he initiated allowed the truth of profound injustice to be exposed, and to be followed not by violence and recrimination, but by peace.
His road from prisoner to president exemplified far more than a mere personal victory. It was a victory of truth, love, wisdom, and the power of unity over the forces of hatred and chaos.
How many short-sighted, devastating wars, how many millions of deaths and injuries, and how many injustices that plague today’s world might have been prevented had there been more Nelson Mandelas – more voices of clarity, vision, and compassion?
Having led a life of immense grace and dignity, Nelson Mandela has gone on to the peace of eternity.
May we find the courage to follow in his footsteps. May we also take up the spiritual power of positivity, of grace, unity, and transformation.
Photo: from Wikimedia Commons / Author: Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science / “This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on May 29, 2011 by the administrator or reviewer File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske), who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.”