Barack Obama. Tony Blair. BBC. Fox. Bono. And most of my Facebook friends, both from the years I lived in South Africa and now back in the U.S.
Everyone is thankful for Mandela today, the day after he passed away.
Everyone is considering his legacy.
Everyone is rightly calling him a great man, a fantastic leader.
Twitter’s in on the act, too, with #RIPNelsonMandela, #Apartheid, #Madiba, and #Mandela all trending globally as I write this.
The news outlets are full of his biography, his impact, and his character:
Leader in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
Imprisoned for 27 years.
Advocate for constructive nonviolent engagement.
Forgave his oppressors.
The first Black president of South Africa.
Fought HIV/AIDS and poverty.
We admire Mandela, and rightly so. But I wonder if we admire him enough. I wonder if I do.
AIDS is still ravaging families and communities across South Africa and the rest of the continent. Poverty grinds others into the red dust. Wars rage. Malaria kills. Greed wrecks lives across classes and around the world. People are imprisoned unjustly. Orphans languish. Widows struggle.
I know all this. I wonder if Mandela were a young man today, how would he live? How would he act to confront issues like these?
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.
But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
That’s from his trial 49 years ago.
This resonates with me as a follower of Jesus, who said,
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:23-25)
I am thankful for Mandela. I’m grateful for his legacy. But I’m wondering how to honor him. A blog post alone seems pretty lame.