12/9/13

Goodbye, Mandela . . .

So the world is in a tizzy over the passing of iconic leader, inspired man, and consummate learner Nelson Mandela.

I appreciate some of the reflection and some of the discussion of who he was and what his legacy holds. I think honoring a man that did all that Nelson Mandela did is something we should all do. A completely UNFUN fact . . . apartheid didn't even start in South Africa until after World War II. Think about that . . . RECENT history, people. And Nelson Mandela was the lighting rod from its inception to its demise and after he received freedom from nearly three decades of unjust imprisonment he did what few would . . . chose the politics of inclusion when he and the 80% of the people that were seen as "less than" for all those years chose to embrace the 20% that held them down.

Few (VERY FEW) leaders - even the great ones of our time (or any time) would have made that choice. Power, ultimately, is about seizing an opportunity . . . sharing it is for later. Yet - there he was. And for that, we should all respect and admire him.

But here's where I get annoyed (yes, shocker of shockers I am annoyed). Nelson Mandela's death is NOT "sad" unless you are his immediate friend and family. He was 95. NINETY FIVE. He had been sick for years. His leadership and legacy has been solidified for decades. There was never going to be a doubt that the world would remember him for his role in changing the world (which is not hyperbole in this case, I don't think).

SAD is a word that we use to describe the death of 14 year old kids. Sad is the death of a promising cancer researcher. Sad is a lost pregnancy. Sad is the death of a young woman just starting a family. Sad is two people drowning because they could not get the doors open when a car falls from a bridge. SAD deaths are about people's lives and the roles they have or might have being cut short. Sad is about a life not starting or not doing what it was capable of or intended to do. Sad is about preempted potential leadership, legacy, and life.

The world will miss Nelson Mandela but only his immediate family and friends should be sad . . . the rest of us should rejoice in all the wonderful things his 95 years of life gave the rest of us.