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Death of Nelson Mandela: Legacy of Forgiveness Should Continue

by Todd A. Smith

 

Death of Nelson Mandela Shouldn’t Equate to Death of His Legacy

        What can be said about a man who exemplified God’s desire for mankind?  Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as “Madiba,” represented a willingness to sacrifice his life and dignity for his fellow man.  He also represented a willingness to easily forgive those who persecuted and oppressed him and his race for decades.

            The death of Nelson Mandela was not necessarily a shock because God blessed him with 95 years, but hopefully “Madiba’s” legacy will live on, which is a legacy of forgiveness and reconciliation even after brutal racism and oppression.

            According to the New York Times, “Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty to the liberation underground to a prison rock quarry to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country…

            “The question most often asked about Mandela was how, after Whites had systematically humiliated his people, tortured and murdered many of his friends, and cast him into prison for 27 years, he could be so evidently free of spite.”

            Mandela's response to that question was, “Hating clouds the mind.  It gets in the way of strategy.  Leaders cannot afford to hate.”

            The apartheid system of segregation in South Africa mirrored the Jim Crow system of oppression in the Deep South.

            Hatred was met with love and violence was met with forgiveness.  Like South Africa, after generations of racial discrimination, America was able to overcome its bigoted past and elect a Black president for the first time in 2008.

            Unfortunately for Americans, the period of post-racial America has given way to the post-Obama backlash, and racism seems to be on the rise again.

            From the unnecessary killing of Trayvon Martin; to the popularity of White children donning blackface makeup; to stop-and-frisk laws; to the shop-and-frisk controversy, racism is still alive and well in this country.

            After the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict in the Martin killing, social media was abuzz with racist commentary from people of all colors.

            When urged not to form an us against them mentality, many from both communities expressed how difficult that would be.  Reconciliation and forgiveness is often very difficult, but it is definitely not impossible or implausible with God’s love in your heart.

            Mandela’s heart exuded God’s love and God’s forgiveness.

            If a man can overcome 27 years of unjust incarceration and still forgive his oppressors, then forgiving those who do us wrong should be easy.

            If a man can see close friends murdered and humiliated just because of the color of their skin and still forgive the killers, it should be easy to forgive our counterparts of another race for our disagreements.

            And if a man can ultimately work with his former enemies, how difficult is it for us to extend an olive branch and work with those who do not see eye to eye with us?

            The death of Nelson Mandela should not be in vain.

            This country, and the world for that matter, still has some racial barriers to cross, but if “Madiba” could find the love in his heart to forgive and move forward, overcoming our racial differences should be a much easier cross to bear.

This article was published on Friday 06 December, 2013.
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