From the top of the US government down to random postings on Facebook and Twitter, it seems that many people in the United States are marking the death of Nelson Mandela. As we should be. The man did so much to further human rights and equality. He lived an exceptional life, one that should be celebrated and honored. But not in a ten second reblog or inspirational quote.
We have, here in the United States, so much social injustice in the lives around us. Race, class, gender, sexual preference, education… any chance we get to create an “Us vs. Them” mentality, we seem to take it. Racism now is often insidious, as in the online criticism raised over casting a black man as the role of a smart scientist in Catching Fire. But it also still exists blatantly out in the open, like Wisconsin’s incarceration rates. So, it seems to me, everyone that is marking the death of Nelson Mandela needs to really keep in mind how far we still have to go in our own backyards to even begin to show the level of respect that should be shown to this man.
John Boehner is quoted as saying this: “Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his ‘long walk to freedom’ showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president. He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony. I send condolences to the Mandela family and to the people of South Africa.” The mind boggles, that such a man could say this with a straight face!
I’m meandering a bit, which I am apt to do when I get passionate. I just feel such a growing disgust.
In memory of Nelson Mandela, examine your daily life for the social injustices that are right next to you. Study your heart for any prejudices that you may carry, some buried so deep you can’t even see them except out of the corner of your eye. And speak out when it is necessary. A man spent his entire life fighting to make a better world. Surely we can manage a few minutes every day doing the same.