Nelson Mandela: What’s Inside a Person?

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What’s inside a person? Nelson Mandela is born and raised in a country village, becomes a lawyer against all odds, sacrifices everything in a fight for political freedom, becomes the leader of that fight, goes to prison for life in lieu of the death penalty for attempting to overthrow the government, gets released after 27 years, and forgives all the people who oppressed him and his people, then becomes president of the same nation and one of the most significant people of our generation.

He wasn’t perfect and had a less-successful private life–divorced twice–yet he himself was the first to confess that. And he felt troubled that people exalted him, rather thinking of himself as “a sinner who keeps on trying.”

He never let go of his principles, including the shift toward violence when years of non-violence didn’t work, in his sometimes-violent fight for the overthrow of South African apartheid.

Even while he did hard labor in prison all that time, the world watched and reviled the system and government that put him there. Then stood speechless as he reconciled an unreconcilable nation. Then marveled at how, unlike any other leader in Africa, he chose to step down once he accomplished his goal.

What’s inside a person, so aware of his personal flaws, to be so incredible, to live his whole life so far beyond himself?

The question is not to be answered as much as to be explored. Surely history provided the context for his greatness, but why not the millions of others who did not rise, suffer, and overcome?

We get so caught up in our personal matters, our trivial concerns, our safety and comfort. And we satisfy ourselves with being satisfied.

What’s inside each of us that has not yet been tapped, not yet demanded, not yet risen and struggled to become what could be?

What’s inside you?

To see a good 18 minute documentary on Mandela’s life, click:–

Photo Credit:  Getty Images