Think of the iconic leaders of the twentieth century: Churchill, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, Gandhi, King....While he still walked this earth it hadn't entered my mind that Mandela was the last of them. I only realized this when it was announced that he had died. They all belong to the ages now.
His is a story that defies all the odds to be sure. The other day someone likened his ascension to the presidency of South Africa to a former slave being elected to the American presidency in 1968. I was hoping that he would at least survive prison by twenty-seven years, to make up for all the wasted time he languished there. It was not meant to be. At least we may console ourselves with the knowledge that the final twenty-four years of Nelson Mandela's long life were spent on the mountaintop. That works for me. I think it worked for him as well. If he harbored so-much-as-a molecule of resentment over the decades of injustice he incurred from the most vile of systems, he never revealed it. His wish was for reconciliation, not revenge.
One good thing that has come from the death of Nelson Mandela is the stark fact that Ronald Reagan had been deservedly knocked down a few inches off the historical pedestal that so many Americans still naively place him. Today they we are reminded that the gipper and his administration had no serious moral reservations with respect to apartheid in general and Mandela's imprisonment in particular. When Nelson was released from prison in February of 1990, Reagan, then a year out of office, had no comment.
What was it about the guy? Is it just me or did you notice the aura, too? There aren't many times someone as inspirational as he crosses our path - and when that blue moon does grace the sky - the moment should be treasured. Nelson Mandela was indeed a treasure, a reminder of the beauty of the human race. And to think that he actually walked among us! I suspect that a thousand years from now, people will still be discussing him.
It is raining today in South Africa, something that the people there always see as a positive omen. On the surface they do not appear to be a nation in mourning. In fact they're dancing in the streets! They're celebrating a noble life, well and honorably lived. Can you blame them? We should all be dancing in the streets this morning.