Mandela on the Journey Ahead

Mandela on the Journey Ahead June 29, 2020

2020 will go down as an epoch year, one for the history books; two viruses, a new one in the form of COVID 19, and an old one in the form of hatred.

The cases of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have revealed something deeply disturbing about our nation: that a movement on the dignity of a particular color of humanity still needs to be had. And make no mistake, it needs to be had, but not just for these victims, for these and the countless others making the headlines are just smoke signals of a larger evil still lingering. And where there is smoke; there is fire – a fire of hatred that runs deep in our nation’s present and past. What will be our future?

In all that is dark and dreary in these days, I’ve found myself looking back at the giants before us. What would they say to us? Nelson Mandela would remind us that hatred, racism, and injustice are like a virus; allowing it to exist anywhere is to permit its spread, and that “freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.”

As a nation and singular human race, we cannot lose sight of how far we’ve come, but need to remain unrelenting on how far we still have to go.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

As we proceed forward and look back at our history, we need to decide what side of history that we’ll be on moving forward.

We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy.”

And to keep going:

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color 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. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

So help us God.

Let 2020 be a year in the history books that we’ll always remember – the year that the flame of love, hope, and equality tips the scale – that our epoch not be that we rose up from a novel coronavirus, but that we finally turned the page in human history in ending the ultimate virus of hatred, injustice, tribalism, and racism – the year we actualize Mandela’s hope for our collective humanity, perhaps stated slightly differently by Bob Marley: One Love.

Image credit: South Africa, The Good News, derivate work by Archibald Tuttle

Source: Wikimedia Commons





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