I’m not much given to writing tributes and that’s mainly because I cannot think of anything to write that hasn’t already been written or stated already.
I am, of course, referring to the passing of one Nelson Mandela. Surely you’ve heard about it, unless you stepped out off the planet for a while. I mean, everybody has been talking about it.
Oh, and if you’re expecting me to be cynical or a wiseacre about Mr. Mandela’s death at age 95, you would be wrong about that. He was a rarity with me, not to mention most other people. Even the satirical newspaper The Onion noted that for the only time in history a political leader has died whom everybody liked and admired. He was a politician for whom I had unwavering respect and about whom it must be said that the planet was left a better place due to his presence upon it. He earned his place in international posterity for all time and I sincerely believe that even centuries from now his name will be revered.
Wait, you ask, was he more revered and respected than, say, Gandhi? Indeed he was. People tend to forget that Gandhi had a vast array of political enemies and he was assassinated in the end. At one point in his history Gandhi even contemplated brokering a deal with the fascistic Japanese regime of World War Two such was his hatred (justified in some cases) of the British Raj. And, he was unable to surmount either the caste system or the split between Hindu and Muslim.
Mandela, on the other hand was not only able to eradicate the hideousness of apartheid, but rose to govern the nation that had once deemed him, due to his race, a non-person and who imprisoned him for two decades.
And he came out of that incarceration not embittered and broken (as most of us would be) and not seething with hatred for his overlords, but determined to surmount via forgiveness and compassion. Very few could do the same.
I wasn’t saddened by Mr. Mandela’s passing, as he was very old, but I am saddened that among the worlds political leaders of virtually any time in history the man stands alone amongst the self-seekers, swine and trash who would presume to govern us – badly, and with their own ends in mind.