Thursday, December 05, 2013

World Mourns Passing of Human Rights Icon Nelson Mandela

It was already growing dark outside the window of my office late this afternoon when I heard the announcement on NPR's 'All Things Considered' that former South African President Nelson Mandela had passed away at age 95.

I think of that smile and that twinkle of deep wisdom and knowing in his eyes and can't help but feel a sense that a little light has gone out of the world.

The extensive tributes to and media coverage about his life and passing are already spreading across the globe; and it will certainly dominate the headlines of television news coverage this evening; and for many nights to come.

More worthy analysis of his lasting impact on peaceful non-violent resistance, human rights and the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa will be forthcoming from writers, scholars, activists, journalists and politicians eminently more qualified than I to give voice to his legacy.

So I can only say that, like millions of others, I saw him as something of a grandfatherly figure who inspired me to learn more about the human condition; a wise elder statesman for a global population of people from all races, religions and walks of life.

Opposition leader, political prisoner, husband, father, Nobel Prize winner, president of a nation, mentor, friend; regardless of his role the quiet, towering strength of spirit he conveyed was an example to so many.

There's a sense of sadness seeing him depart physically from this existence at the beginning of the holiday season; but I look forward to celebrating his triumphs, mourning his passing and learning even more about his fascinating life from the inevitable tributes which are just beginning.

Not only did he change the world, he left it a better place than it was when he entered this life. He treated others better than life, and the conditions in which he lived, often treated him. And will be remembered forever as one who had such a powerful impact on the evolution of the human condition.

Now he truly is free.

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