Nelson Mandela; reformer, visionary and model for us all. He sacrificed more years in prison than years I have been alive. He was shunned as a terrorist and isolated by the global community. Supporting his cause was the inconvenient thing to do, but its fruits are something we all reap today.
‘The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation … Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land’ – Margaret Thatcher, 1987
‘How much longer will the Prime Minister allow herself to be kicked in the face by this black terrorist?’ – Terry Dicks MP, mid-1980s
Mandela remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list until 2008 (http://huff.to/1bLamfa), when then-President George W. Bush signed a bill removing Mandela from it. Imagine being exposed to such comments by the Prime Minister of a leading country of the world. Imagine sacrificing your life for something you believe so pationately to be right, yet the whole world shuns you. For you to think change will be easy, it is you that lives in “cloud-cuckoo land”
Like all great reformers, Mandela believed in his cause wholeheartedly, unwavering in the reform he was bringing. Knowing it to be right, he had the determination to stick by it regardless of what was thrown at him. He knew that truth was greater than himself, and he would sacrifice whatever was necessary to achieve it.
The world awoke early enough for him to see his dream (partially) come true, and now he rests whilst the whole world mourns his loss.
However, we must not make the mistake in thinking our job is done. Mandela recognised it his whole life and we must recognise it now; his work is greater than him. We must not let his legacy and reform die alongside him. It is convenient to let the world run its course whilst we stand by helpless in its tracks. Rather, we must strive to ensure it remains ringing in the ears of every dictator, bigot and racist alive.
I believe another Mandela will rise, one who is not afraid to stand by what he believes even if everyone looks at them with disapproval. New issues will arise and new enemies will stand in our way, but we must strive to find truth and support it regardless of where it lies. Life is too short to be content with injustice.