Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thoughts on the passing of Nelson Mandela

Listening to the many tributes to Nelson Mandela today, following his death at age 95, I was reminded of how fortunate the world has been to have been blessed with such an amazing human being.  After being imprisoned for 27 years, this man somehow came to the realization that he would never be free if he continued to hate his oppressors.  So he had the wisdom to let his hate go, and when he re-created a new nation on the rubble of apartheid, it was not a nation soaked with the blood of violent retribution.  Rather, it became a nation where his former enemies could go about their lives without the fear and oppression that Nelson Mandela lived with under apartheid.  It was not to be tit-for-tat!  The depth of the humanity within this man is beyond words!  His example is one of the all-too-few shining moments for the human race in the 20th century.

Mandela's deep understanding of humanity and his unshakeable morality gave him the moral high ground and he wielded the power of that moral authority to the benefit of all, even long before he was even released from prison!  He used but never abused the power he had - after all, moral authority is only powerful from the high ground.  Stoop to the level of your enemy and your power is forfeit.  And he never sought to retain power, giving up his Presidency after but one term.  This is a lesson our US government has yet to learn!

There's another such towering figure in our history - Martin Luther King - another deeply human person who also happened to be black.  Alas, unlike Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King was taken from us long before his time.  Nevertheless, in the time he had, he revealed the shining light of freedom and love for all humans and that vision can never be forgotten.  That we lost him too soon is tragic, but at least he left an enduring legacy that any reasonable human should be proud to inherit.

Sadly, despite such examples (and there are others, of course), the poisonous influence of racism and bigotry still lingers in this world and in this nation, which is supposed to be dedicated to the proposition that all people should be offered equal opportunity.  We Americans have yet to achieve this noble ideal, and it may be a long time in becoming a reality, if ever.  But it's through such people as Martin Luther King that we've been able to make whatever progress we've achieved to date.

Therefore, it's appropriate to consider how many such men and women, who had great gifts they could have shared with us all, have been oppressed and snuffed out before they had a chance to share their insights and humanity with us all.  What bright lights were extinguished under the bushel of racism and bigotry before they were allowed to shine for all of us?  What men and women around the world have never been given the chance to prosper and find their opportunity to share their insights and wisdom with the world?  Racism, religious bigotry, misogyny are all excuses to oppress and silence their voices, to hide their lights, to keep them from achieving their potential.  How many such souls have been trodden into dust without giving this world the benefit of having known them?

Racism, bigotry, misogyny - these are lies that cannot withstand even the slightest touch of rationality.  They're irrational concepts, they're baseless fallacies used by pathetic weaklings to make themselves feel superior despite their obvious recognition of their own inferiority.  It's just not possible to raise yourself by taking others down.  These are human weaknesses that must be repudiated and not allowed to have the power to oppress.  A sense of justice demands it.  And it's in our Constitution!

Think of the Anne Franks of the world, snuffed out by evil people in their pathetic but ruthless lust for power.  How many nameless, faceless people have died in conflicts, been slaughtered in pogroms and tribal massacres, in pointless wars - all without ever achieving the prominence they might have deserved.  How many people crammed into hopeless ghettos with limited opportunity have never been granted a chance to share with us their great gifts?  What things might we now understand that we could have learned from them?  What scientific knowledge would now be benefiting the world, had they been given voice?  What profound works of art might we have to share, had they been allowed to achieve?

What have we lost?  What could possibly have been worth the price we've paid for our racism and bigotry?  Can we never get to the point where we can work together for the common good, rather than being ruled by our primitive tribalism and barbarism?  Perhaps we can achieve this ideal only with the help of some truly great people we've so far been willing to stomp into silence and anonymity.  Let these people live and prosper!!

1 comment:

okienurse said...

I hate to think of what we have lost and what we could have accomplished without all the bigotry and hate. If we had just not pointed fingers and all worked together to right the wrongs...It is mind boggling what could have been done!

Vickie Doswell!!!!