Nelson Mandela died last Thursday. By any standards Mandela was a great human being whose life symbolizes the true meaning of success.
Nelson Mandela was not a perfect human being. He was married three times and divorced twice. I am sure that in his youth he may have had to take actions which incorporated qualities of anger and frustration, perhaps even violence. In many ways the life of Mandela is a case study of how a strong leader needs to embrace both masculine and feminine qualities. Without the fierce strength and perhaps even aggression of his youth, Mandela would not have been in a position to show the power of forgiveness in solidifying lasting change. As Nelson Mandela learned the true nature of balance in his personal and political life, he was able to achieve lasting results which were truly extraordinary.
More than any other statesman, Nelson Mandela represented unity and overcoming separatism. Those who knew Mandela personally felt he exuded the quality of love. Certainly the photographs from his later life show a man who was able to smile and laugh and enjoy the quiet moments of life. That he was fearless in confronting those who abused and mistreated him and his people, and that he was able to genuinely forgive those who sometimes hated him and his purpose, made him a unique and admirable leader and human being.
I see many of these same qualities of balancing male and female energy in Malala. Malala was born when Mandela was already 79 years old. Many years will have to pass before we are able to determine how significant a role Malala will have on the world stage, but whatever her role the lesson we can learn is that fearlessness for one’s personal safety, dedication to a larger purpose based on simple justice, human decency, and the willingness to remain true to one’s roots and family are qualities both of these larger than life personalities share.
Nelson Mandela was the son of a tribal chief. Malala is the daughter of a school teacher. In neither case were these families positioned to create great world leaders. That is exactly the point. No matter who you are, no matter who your parents, grandparents or relatives may be, you are potentially a great world leader. What impact you have on the world may never be formally recognized in the way that Nelson Mandela and Malala have been recognized, but the impact of your life may be just as great.
Everyone matters, everyone can contribute. We can create a just and peaceful world with opportunity for all. The life of Nelson Mandela confirms this truth. We salute a great soul whose journey no doubt continues at this time to contribute to the intended joy of all creation.