He has the same number of hours in a day, the same daily needs and roughly the same life span as me….hopefully. How did he manage to do what he did? He’s just a man. He’s not better or worse. What make us different as people are the circumstances we are born into, the skills we choose to acquire and how much we choose to grow out of whatever impoverishment or abuse we’ve endured vs. defying the world with our anger because we have been abused. He was a great man because his positive core values defined his actions. And he didn’t just think about it or cry about it or preach about it….he lived it. He fought for the rights of the black people in South Africa. He stood by his convictions to the point where he was imprisoned for 27 years. When he became President after being released, he showed that he was against oppression by fighting for the rights of the white people too. He was against domination and oppression; he wasn’t against the individuals themselves who oppressed him. He was against shaming people and he was for making things different. His “Truth and Reconciliation” talks were revolutionary and so healing. He never forgot his humanness, his vulnerability or his lack of perfection and would correct people when they tried to ‘saint-ify’ him. He would say “I’m not a saint, unless a saint is a man who makes mistakes and keeps on trying”.
He taught us by example to listen carefully to everyone including those that you disagree with. He showed us that the choice and the thinking about your choices are what make you who you are. If you are thinking about the ‘other guy’ and justifying your behaviour based upon that, then you are giving your power away. He never gave his power away. He thought about his goals and values and chose consciously what was important to him and the people he was fighting for and when it was important to compromise. He exemplified the South African word, UMBUNTU, meaning…“we achieve ourselves by being ourselves and sharing ourselves with the world.” He quoted Marianne Williamson in his inaugural speech when he became President, saying, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that scares us. It does not serve the world to keep yourself small.” Let your light shine as he did…..the world deserves it.
I also highly recommend the Movie "Invictus". Morgan Freeman does a wonderful job depicting Nelson Mandela during the time period after Nelson becomes President and is trying to unite a divided and wounded South Africa.