The passing of a great leader calls us to honor what they stood for—a world of equality and justice for all.
Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest archetypal heroes of our time. In his 95 years, he traveled both the depths and the heights, from his 27 years of dark imprisonment, to his celebration as the first elected Black President of South Africa, and winner of over 250 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. His accomplishments were an evolutionary milestone for the whole planet.
If you feel small in the face of what needs to happen in the world—if you feel hopeless, like your efforts are in vain—imagine what Mandela must have thought during his original sentence of life imprisonment, living in a damp 8×7-foot cell under maximum security, often under solitary confinement, with one visitor every six months.
Did he lose hope at times? I can only imagine that he must have, yet he never gave up fighting for his dream. Did he have fantasies of revenge? Perhaps there were moments, but instead he worked for reconciliation and forgiveness, even courting those who led the apartheid movement and campaigning for the end of violence. Though he was denied sunglasses when he was forced to work in the lime quarry, he permanently damaged his eyesight, yet never lost his vision of a better world.
Nelson Mandela was a game changer. His shining example encourages us to never lose hope, to never give up, to always keep our vision focused on the loving world we know is possible.