It was on this date in 1918 that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born. We knew him as a lawyer, politician, activist, great leader, philanthropist, and a person who did indeed change the world. His autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was published in 1984 and I can remember reading it around that time and thinking about how incredibly strong this man was to have done so much and to have endured so much. Mandela presided over the transition from apartheid minority rule to a multicultural democracy in South Africa and he showed the world how people from all backgrounds can work together.
If ever there was a poster person for what this blog is all about, it would be Nelson Mandela. He was not only a great leader who made a huge difference in this world, but he did it with dignity and grace and a sense of humor.
In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly created by unanimous approval, Nelson Mandela Day to honor the former South African President and to inspire other people to carry on his efforts to "take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time." This is the first year the day has been celebrated since his death last December. I urge you to visit http://www.mandeladay.com/ and find out more about this man and about how we all can observe Nelson Mandela Day.
It was Mandela that said "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires." Many of us experience our own long walk to freedom. Seeing Mandela's life and remembering his words can inspire us and push us forward. In his words: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."