As I was watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral today, a few things occurred to me. I’m sure he realised how important he was and how much he was loved and respected. I’ve always thought it’s really important to let a person know how you feel about them and the impact they have had on your life. Without trying to sound morbid, you never want it to be too late and regret not telling them.
The other thing that crossed my mind was that here is this amazing man who sacrificed so much of himself and his family for his country. I wondered, would he have been the man he was if he hadn’t gone to prison? He was of course always a man of courage and honour. He was jailed because he was fighting for the end of apartheid and the division of blacks and whites in South Africa. His reason for being put in jail was unjust in the first place. But was it 27 years in an African jail that spurred him on to go out there, become the first South African black president and make such a difference? Would he have been the accomplished man that he was if he hadn’t been through those 27 horrendous years? Does the end justify the means?
So often when something we perceive as negative happens to us, we sit and brood on it. We feel sorry for ourselves, we whine and complain. We could of course be a lot worse off but we often don’t see that. It’s so easy to drown in a pool of self pity until we have someone reach down and help us out of it.
Here is a man who had 27 of his 95 years taken from him and he still made a difference. Even in his passing he is put on a pedestal and honoured. He didn’t let a 27 year speed bump stop him from achieving what he was destined to do. So today I say RIP Tata Madiba. I will remember you not just for the difference you made in the lives of millions of South Africans but for your sheer determination and will to let no obstacle stand in your way.
Some of my favourite quotes by Mandela:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“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.”