While the world mourns, South Africa sings. A great man is no more. Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully last night and yes, it hurts. It makes me think of the days I learned about Mandela when I was just a teenage girl. It makes me wonder if we will ever see such humility and greatness in one person ever again.
What Nelson Mandela taught me, was the way you can do well by others, not by force but simply by being you.
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.
Everyone has a message they want or have to bring, each of us wants to strive for a better world. Having been a philanthropist for years, my heroes were people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and others that stood up against all odds to change the lives of many.
The first use of the word ‘philanthropy’ means ‘humanity loving,’ like Prometheus was in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound (line 11, 460 BC). These days ‘philanthropy’ means ‘focusing on the quality of life’ and that is something I have been quite involved in. Living with MS (and all its negative connotations) turned into advocacy, and it is has become my surest way to happiness.
“To deny people their human rights is to
challenge their very humanity.”
While I don’t want to take away from Mandela’s goodwill, criticism followed people like himself, Mother Teresa and Gandhi because they too were not 100% perfect. Perfect meant they could not see the change that needed to happen in the world. Mother Teresa for example was criticised for not distributing pain medication to patients who were suffering badly. In Mother Teresa’s own philosophy, the reason for doing so was “the most beautiful gift for a person is, that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ‘.” This sounds diabolical these days, and it is hard to marry her philosophy with what we define as proper human rights today. Nevertheless, as a young teenager, I admired Mother Teresa before I was able to grasp her criticism.
Nelson Mandela was in my view. a seeker of truth, of integration, socialism and quite concerned with freedom of speech, in body and soul. I don’t believe there was a bigger or greater philanthropist alive. At 95 years old and now sadly passed away, Mandela’s ideology is still very much alive. I hope his legacy and fight for freedom will continue to live long after his death.
Looking up to these people, seeing the changes they were able to achieve, it all makes sense. Gandhi and Mandela were just a few of those I saw as true, as real. I admired them greatly because they gave the word ‘philanthropy’ an even bigger meaning: do well, no matter what. If you can’t feed a hundred, then feed just one.
“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.”
Seeing Nelson Mandela doing well by others, forgiving those who hated him and trying to change the lives of the many looking up to him, I cannot be but amazed and humbled. When I first thought about advocating for people with disabilities, I looked to Nelson Mandela. If he was able to move a country into desperately needed change with so little hatred and anger, then surely anyone can stand up and fight.
Where words can make you feel worthy, actions truly make you feel fulfilled. And that, was all because of one man: Madiba.
To read the original article, please go to:
- Casting Off Chains, Enhancing Freedom of Others: The Legacy of Nelson Mandela (huffingtonpost.com)
- POST-4: RIP Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (chorariasaurabh.wordpress.com)
- Nelson Mandela redefined courage; lead his nation from the front: Sonia Gandhi (dnaindia.com)
- Parliament pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, both houses adjourned (dnaindia.com)
- Nelson Mandela took history in his hands: Obama (indiavision.com)
- The Epitome Of True Leadership. A Tribute To Nelson Mandela (vaibhavadlakha.wordpress.com)
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