Forgiveness made all the difference
This week we lost a hero – a man who couldn’t tolerate injustices and decided to make a difference.
Nelson Mandela began his political actions at the age of 24 and founded the ANC at age 33. He was imprisoned for 27 yrs for defending the non violent support of the black people in Africa. His life was devoid of all of the outside world in those years except occasional visits from his wife. While he was in prison he found out that his wife had been unfaithful and that his son had died. Living through a diagnosis of tuberculosis in those years must have been a miraculous feat in itself.
At the age of 71 he began his political career again and at 75 yrs old he received the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 76 he became the first democratic president of South Africa. By 83 he was travelling the world for his cause and became an honorary Canadian citizen. Although Mandela said at age 89 that he was officially retiring from public life, he nevertheless went on to initiate “The Elders” focusing on peace building, securing the release of political prisoners, humanitarian relief and women’s rights. When he first became very ill, the world was not ready to ” let him go.” . Months later, he died – and the world mourns.
Nelson Mandela – A life well lived – a man who changed a world.
I find it quite amazing that a man who spent 27 years in prison could come out – now an older man – and then go on to lead the country that had so discriminated against him as a black man. One needs to wonder where he developed the attitude that he wouldn’t come out with bitterness and hatred.
I would hope that I too, could be like this man. I guess we all have to wonder how after 27 yrs in prison he was able to put behind bitterness and hatred and continue on to make a difference in the world. Admirable but not that easy.
Learning to forgive is a life long learning experience. It is so hard to remember that forgiving someone does not change the offender but ourselves. Forgiving others is a gift we can give ourselves. Our first instinct is to carry that hurt, coddle it and grow it so that it becomes a big part of us. Instead, with help, we can put that hurt in the big old garbage can and move on.
Nelson Mandela was able to do that.
That act of forgiveness was not only a gift to himself but to the world as a whole.