Fantastic Friday: Rolihlahla “Nelson” Mandela

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”                       ~The Honorable Nelson Mandela

President Mandela broke every chain.  In breaking his chains, he always lived free. Prison may have confined him, but the burning core of unity in diversity and the cause of freedom for humankind was his everlasting freedom song.

“I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.” ~Rolihlahla Mandela

The summary of his life, the longevity of his struggle, and Mr. Mandela’s compassion ultimately formulated his resolve. Human rights, peaceful struggler, and learned fearless leadership are limited descriptions of this insightful man who defied prison and chains.

Madiba Mandela was a humanitarian. His foundations, including 46664 – his number while at Robben Island – embeds engagement. This indefatigable, renowned world leader engaged the consciousness of nations and individuals to speak and live peace.

Peter Beinart, in a recent article, Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then, reminds the world, especially Americans, that Mr. Mandela struggled, yet stood firm in his clarity that America “was not pure.”  Thus, according to Beinart, “not long ago, in Washington‘s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail… As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.”

Never forget.

In spite of his “enemy” status, Nelson Mandela came to America in 1990; I was among one of the cheering crowds who were honored to be in the presence of this humble giant who championed the prize of freedom.  How long, not long could have been his mantra since he knew his freedom, in spite of the oppression of apartheid every day. Not long, but at least 27 years of unjust confinement, never truly imprisoned the spirit of the man.

Freedom and restful peace, Mr. President Mandela

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Unity In Diversity

America celebrates inclusion. Actually, dissatisfied citizens around the world watched the evidence of unity in diversity in America and join the celebrants in America. Millions of disenfranchised, oppressed or marginalized people, especially women, worldwide who long for a different world of inclusion see the possibility.

Unity in diversity embodies more than skin color; it is a pledge of the acceptance of human dignity. The idea of unity that includes the diversity of humankind, progressive thought and equal opportunity signals inclusion. It recognizes the deepest human longing – fairness.

Goodwill unifies. Equality unifies. Fairness unifies. People in every hamlet, village, town, reservation, or country in the world cry out for fairness. Goodwill does not bend to politics. Goodwill opens the mind to inclusion rather than exclusion because of gender, race, geography or economic status.

Mankind is one. Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, sacrificed much to free the people in her country.  Nelson Mandela sacrificed for the freedom of his people in South Africa. Shirin Ebadi of Iran sacrifices for justice in her land. President Obama in the United States of America, another Nobel laureate, believes “We will rise and fall as one nation, and as one people.” These Nobel peace prize laureates and many, many others struggle for fairness for all mankind across the world.

Women deserve dignity. The struggle for dignity extends to a former girl prostitute in India who was forced to sell her body. Sakena Yacoobi in Afghanistan fights to educate girls to fix the country’s severe gender imbalances. Layli Miller-Muro in the United States who protects immigrant women and girls fleeing the violence of genital mutilation champions dignity.   These conjoined problems of sex trafficking, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality all over the world depend on restoring women’s dignity.  Read Half the Sky

Unity in diversity is vital to the equality, dignity, goodwill and protection of all people.