A Personal Perspective: The Contrast between Nelson Mandela’s Embodiment of Social Health and the Commitment of Governing Institutions to Politics-As-Usual.
When Nelson Mandela passed on, the world mourned the loss of a heroic figure who embodied a one-man struggle for social justice and a compassionate society for all. His life was an epitome of social health – a life aligned with the ethic of interdependence. His social health was contagious – millions of people experienced his presence as inspiring them toward greater love, understanding, and creative work toward more justice and unity in the world.
Yet, while we mourn his passing, politics-as-usual continues, strangely failing to recognize any moral imperative to continue the legacy of his spirit. Below is one woman’s perspective on this contrast, which we have learned to accept as the way things are.
Memories of Mandela in London
by Nancy Jordan
Some years ago he visited the United Kingdom as a guest of the government, I believe, and it was on that visit that he spoke in the Houses of Parliament. He referred to previous visits during which time apartheid still prevailed and he was steel-like in his expression of the unacceptability of that regime. But there were no personal accusations – he focused on the wrong but not on the wrongdoers. He and Betty Boothroyd, the then Speaker of the House, walked down the steps together holding hands. She looked as if she never wanted to let go, and who could blame her?
Dreamer that I am I made a point of watching Prime Minister’s Question Time the following day, believing there would be a change. I expected less of the one-up-man-ship, the rude interruptions, the feeling of a teenage boys’ debating society. After having witnessed true statesmanship, a vision so broad that even the planet was envisioned as part of something bigger, a gentleness, a compassion, a humor, was it unreasonable to hope that it might evoke a qualitative change in the setting? It could have happened.
Later he spoke to reporters in such a friendly fashion when he left his hotel in the morning to go jogging. And, later still, when he addressed the crowds assembled in front of South Africa House, he told them he loved them so much he wanted to put them in his pocket and take them home to South Africa with him. Who says there is no place for loving at the highest levels?
Was it the growing of himself through the hardships of prison that made him such a shining one? The photographs of him, and the published comments attached to them remind me that getting older can be about getting wiser and sweeter; that when you say what you say from the center of your being, it causes all sorts of reverberations on multiple dimensions; and hope springs forth, and transformation ceases to be an impossible dream but becomes, instead, the ordinary, everyday, possibility of all of us.
What a blessing to be on the planet at the same time as he!
Nancy Jordan, December 5, 2013