My hero died today. I think the world’s hero died today. We mourn for the loss of a leader, an inspiration, an “out-of-the-box” thinker, a living martyr, an eloquent speaker, a man who could move nations with his words and his actions of peace. But few of us will remember that he is also a husband, a father, a uncle, a cousin, a friend. My heart breaks for members of his family and friends. They have lost a loved one and are unable to mourn their loss in private. I pray that they find a way to mourn, remember, and celebrate Nelson Mandela’s death in their own way, in their own time, away from the rest of the world. I also hope that they will take great comfort in the fact that this man that they knew personally will never be forgotten by so many people around the world.
He will be remembered for all of he successes over the 95 years he walked on this earth. As this quote suggests though, it is not his successes that Mr. Mandela wanted to be remembered for, but his tenacity. Nelson Mandela has been a symbol of peaceful strength for me since I was old enough in school to become aware that he had been jailed and why. I remember writing letters to Amnesty International for him to be released from his imprisonment. I remember hearing the incredible news of his release; something I never really ever thought would happen! This man was physically and mentally beaten down for 30 years while in prison yet after time spent in a life of privacy, he decided to re-enter the world of the public eye to continue his mission to bring freedom and equality to his home of South Africa as well as around the world. I cried and cried when he won the Presidential election and became the first Black President of South Africa. What a turn of the tide that represented and within my own lifetime! He continued to have his stumbles and falls over the years, yet, he continued to pick himself up and continue on. THAT inspires me!
When I am sitting on my pity pot, begrudging my “unfair” life, I will remember this quote of my hero’s and pick myself up and continue on with improving not only my own life but the lives of those in my community. Nelson Mandela endured discrimination and imprisonment for over 30 years, surely, I can endure stressful times of financial restraints, disappointments in my career, occasional arguments with my spouse or children and everything else life throws my way!
So as you continue on your life journey, remember;
Your strength is defined not by your successes but by the number of times you pick yourself back up after being knocked down.
You will be missed but never forgotten Nelson Mandela! Thank you for showing the world what a true hero and inspiration looks like!