“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
– Nelson Mandela
As a South African born into a free country, and as a writer touched by the work of blazing souls such as Nelson Mandela, I felt compelled to write this piece.
I, along with the rest of the world, am saddened by the loss of such a great man. Whilst I was not alive during the most atrocious period of our country’s history, Mandela’s legacy has ensured that I am able to sit here and write this post, that I’ve had the opportunity to be educated and to be able to live in a free society.
With the great loss of Madiba, the world remembers his fierce spirit, his steadfast belief in the idealistic vision that fuelled his long walk to freedom. We ruminate on how his values and his philosophies helped deter civil war and instead set this country on a path to peaceful reform and reconciliation.
Why, then, do we constantly remind ourselves of Madiba’s values, share his quotes of idealism and inspiring wisdom, but mostly fail to actually carry out their messages? Mandela was a man who studied theory intently, and then put into action his ideas. He seized his ideas and turned ideals into realities. We equate him with the status of an icon – and, indeed, he deservedly is one – but let us not forget that he was a man, a human being just like you and I, with all our flaws and uncertainties and mistakes. Thus, if he, as a mere human being, could dream and then put into motion those visions, why can’t we do the same? Why have we become so complacent in our newfound democracy, diminishing any prospect of change to mere complaints of the ruling party, the oppositions, the government, or to relics of the past regimes?
As Mandela leaves this mortal coil, he reminds us to never settle, to constantly better ourselves, and to seek out the best in ourselves and our fellow human beings. If each one of us were to embody – to study and practice Madiba’s philosophies of peace, action and compassion – I truly believe we can prosper as a nation. It is not enough to rely on politicians for change. A democracy is defined as a system by the people, for the people – not by the politicians, for the people.
Farewell, Madiba. You inspired a nation, and illuminated an entire planet with your presence. Thank you for everything that you’ve done – your time on Earth was indeed spent well, and you forever altered the stream of history. Your impact will resonate for countless generations to come, and I am honoured to have lived for a brief moment in the glow of your life.
You live on in the hope of a new generation eager to build a prospering nation in your vision.