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Have Courage – A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Recently I have questioned my commitment to the ideals I pursue, teach and believe.

I would guess that most of us would say, the most provocative question by which we could measure belief is simply, “Would you die for it?”

Death for belief has created martyrs, many of whom have names we do not know, recite or sing.

In what do you believe?
Would you die for that belief?

Personally, I have come to the conclusion I would die for my beliefs. My convictions for what I believe, run very deep.

Mandela StatueNelson Mandela’s life has posed another set of questions upon which I am asking all of us to think.

The first question:

  • Would I be willing to bear three decades of confinement, hard labor, torture and inhumane treatment for what I believe?

There’s a certain liberty and finality in death.

However, a life of separation, physical pain and mental anguish in return for a stubborn resolve and belief, seems to be an unimaginably bitter cup, from which to drink.

For me…
For you…

This is an unanswered and terrifying question.

Nelson Mandela answered this question with his life. Imprisoned for 27 years, at the age of 44, Mandela gave the most valuable years of his life for what he believed.

The second question:

  • After being imprisoned for nearly three decades, upon being released would you preach a message of forgiveness, unity and love?

Think long and hard on this question.

For many of us, the acid of bitterness is activated almost instantaneously when we suffer small, insignificant offenses.

Thus, how could we expect to surmount egregious acts towards us and those we love, when we can barely maintain control of our emotions and actions when we simply perceive a tone of injustice?

Mandela's Robben Island Cell

Mandela’s Robben Island Cell

During the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa and visit Robben Island, where Mandela was banished, isolated and imprisoned. I’ve always had a profound respect for Nelson Mandela’s inspirational leadership, as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, but visiting that island prison and seeing for myself the circumstance in which he spent 18 years of his life, expanded my admiration.

Most of us will never know how it feels to sleep on the floor of a small concrete cell with a bucket to serve as a toilet.

Mandela did.

Yet, rather than let the chill on his skin, seep into his heart, he allowed himself to be warmed by love and transformed into a more loving and courageous leader.

Madiba (the name South Africans affectionately use to address Nelson Mandela), there is so much to be learned from your life.

My prayer is that we learn from you and meet our future challenges with the same grace.

Thank you for living a life that shows us what it means to have courage.

“If you are in harmony with yourself, you may meet a lion without fear, because he respects anyone with self-confidence.” ~ Nelson Mandela

R.I.P Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)

For those of us who live…
Stay inspired, it’s a lifestyle choice!

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