The world lost a great man this week. Nelson Mandela was a hero across the world and embodied the virtues of forgiveness, kindness and justice.
He never pretended to be a saint or perfect, but he captured the imagination and admiration of the world when he was released from prison after twenty-seven years and said, “’I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal that I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
His life mission was to create a united South Africa through forgiveness and reconciliation.
He said, “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.” Mandela didn’t just talk about love and forgiveness, he exemplified it.
Mandela gave his life to gaining equality and justice for all. “No one person is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’
He taught us that we need a mission in life, and that mission is not about ourselves. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
His good friend Desmond Tutu put it like this, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
No matter what your religion or belief system, kindness is a virtue important to develop. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama
Being kind is not being weak, in fact it took great courage for Mandela to go down the reconciliation road. Some groups called for revenge, some were so fearful they thought crushing the opposing movement was necessary. However, “Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” Kahlil Gibran
We need this kind of strength and resolution wherever we are. We need it in our families, our friendships and in leadership throughout the world.
The Bible tells us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Kindness the way to change the world one day at a time, one person at a time and one nation at a time.