I live in Chicago, a very long way from South Africa. About four years ago I had the privilege of visiting South Africa and it was there that I learned a lot more about this incredible warrior and liberator, Nelson Mandela.
I’m embarrassed to admit that in 1993, I was so busy raising my children and starting my business I didn’t pay close attention to Mandela’s greatest milestone, fighting for and guaranteeing full rights for all black citizens. When I visited in 2009 there was no sign (to me) of apartheid. People compare Nelson Mandela with Martin Luther King, Jr. for their unwavering efforts to give all people of color the right to live freely in a country that touts justice and liberty for all.
With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela I couldn’t help but think back on some of the amazing forces that have fought for human rights and inspired me. Going as far back as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and of course Rosa Parks. There is Desmond Tutu and one of the more recent, young activists for human rights, Malala Youzafzai.
The common denominator amongst this group of individuals, (yes I know there are many more), is leadership. Taking the risk for something they believe in and doing whatever it takes to bring justice to fruition. These individuals took the helm at a time where death was always a potential outcome yet never wavered from their convictions. Compassion is also a strong part of their DNA. Because of their personal struggles, they rose above to save others from the same fate. Humbles me just thinking about it. Risking ones life to save another.
I have always been drawn to those individuals that lead with integrity, honesty and passion. It is empowering to see that because of people who dared to dream and take the risks to make it a reality our world is a better place.
There is no doubt Nelson Mandela has touched an infinite number of lives, mine included. How lucky for those that knew him personally. He was a force to be reckoned with if he wanted change yet he was a consummate peacemaker. How one can combine those qualities and create the changes he has can only be explained as extraordinary.
My feeble attempt at honoring a man who is responsible for positively changing so many lives is shared below. Please enjoy some of my favorite quotes by not only Nelson Mandela, but the others who also fought for the rights of so many. As a mom, woman, business owner, community advocate, and volunteer these quotes and many others, have helped me become a better person.
“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.” -NM
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” – NM
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” MLK
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” MLK
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” AL
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” – AL
“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” – FD
“Without struggle there is no success” – FD
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. ” – RP
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” – RP
“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” – DT
“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” – DT
“I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” – MY
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.” – MY
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.