Mandela on Ideals Worth Living and Dying For

Mandela on Ideals Worth Living and Dying For February 21, 2023

I can’t get enough of Nelson Mandela. His example exemplifies leadership and courage. Often times, the inertia of life, the crowd, and status quo have tremendous attraction given the risk/reward calculus. But courage, true courage, and finding an ideal, in the words of Kierkegaard, for which “I am willing to live and die” for; though the risks are considerably higher, the reward is immeasurably higher, for it could mean the difference between not truly living vs truly living.

Mandela, in fighting the apartheid in South Africa, was arrested and tried for treason. Before his sentencing in court, knowing full well the death penalty was on offer, made the following sentiments:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

We truly stand on the shoulders of giants such as Mandela. Their example reminds that being extraordinary requires the extraordinary. The brave path, fighting for truth, and standing alone even in the face of tremendous risk including death – the greater risk actually lies in not standing for truth, for that would truly be not living.

Image credit: Ashim D’Silva at Unsplash


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