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Text and meaning in the life of Nelson Mandela (part 3 of 3)

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To read the complete special Text and Meaning series by Aberjhani on the late Nelson Mandela please see the links below. Part 3 starts now:

“From December of 1952 when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was banned by the apartheid government until his glorious release in February 1990, it was a crime punishable by imprisonment to quote him or his writings… The fact that Mandela is now one of the most quoted people in the world is an extraordinary turnaround and a testament to the fact that the truth cannot be silenced and wisdom cannot be stopped.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu, introduction to Notes to the Future, Words of Wisdom

The political, social, and spiritual impact of the life example set by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela might be measured in part by the profound and unique gestures made by people in different countries to honor his life upon learning of his death. From the lights of the Eiffel Tower blazing South Africa’s national colors to children in classrooms around the world surrounding images of him with flowers and candles, they found their own way to acknowledge how his integrity and radical grace helped enrich their lives.

Because Mr. Mandela’s early opponents invested so many resources into distorting the true nature of his advocacy the singular historic moment millions now celebrate could have been tragically lost to guerrilla decontextualization. Those who practice guerrilla decontextualization generally do so for the purpose of falsifying an individual’s public image for some form of gain: be it political, financial, social, all of the above, or otherwise.

The gain for those who sought Mandela’s downfall would have been the unchallenged continuation of white supremacy in the form of apartheid. The loss for everyone else would have been that of a modern legacy unparalleled in its scope and potential for correcting the injustices that plague humanity on virtually every continent. Instead of rightly drawing comparisons to such history-altering figures as Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., historians deceived by guerrilla decontextualization would likely have dismissed Mandela altogether or dumped him in the same category as a would-be Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.

An Outlandish Possibility

The people of South Africa’s and Mandela’s actual inclusion of their desire to “Heal the divisions of the past” is likely the closest any government has come to making the scriptural “forgive those who have trespassed against us” into a legislative decree. That means, by spiritual or intellectual extension, that it is the closest any country has come to legally requiring human beings to love and respect one another.

As outlandish as it may sound at this juncture in the evolution of human consciousness, that simple constitutional pronouncement may yet prove Nelson Mandela’s most enduring and revolutionary legacy. Why? Because it employs this humbling awareness: it is not necessary for the sake of understanding or evoking the value and power of love to coerce others into following the dictates or dogma of one’s political or religious beliefs. It is only necessary to choose to live one’s life in accordance with love’s highest, most ennobling, empowering, and healing purposes.

by Aberjhani
author of The River of Winged Dreams
and co-author of ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love

More on Nelson “Madiba” Mandela and Aberjhani’s Text and Meaning Series

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