Yesterday,the world lost a vessel of an angelic spirit by the name of Nelson Mandela. Mandela was an activist, justice maker, humanitarian and leader. He was the catalyst behind tending apartheid in South Africa , and he served 27 years total in prison for the fight against oppression in his country which he later served as President. He died at the age of 95, and this year had 2 movies released about his life. Since yesterday, I have been truly reflecting on his impact, and those of other great leaders and icons that have passed on since I have been alive, and one word comes to mind, gratitude. It is for certain that social problems such as poverty, the endless isms (racism, classism, sexism, etc.) war, capitalistic greed, and much more still exists, but I'm grateful. I am grateful for the amount of information and technology that is accessible for knowledge, personal growth, and economic opportunities. I am grateful for the legacy of great leaders to shed light on what selfless living looks like. Generation Y is truly one marked by entitlement. For the most part we watch, we sit, and we go after our winnings, but in the grander scheme of things, someone had to fight for us all to be as comfortable as we are. I for one am grateful. I have learned to find gratitude in the loss of a loved one, whether I know them or not. All of our lives represent a set of philosophies that give power to others. However that power looks, is only something we really realize after someone passes; We learn of legacies based on the impact they had on lives. Mandela proudly spoke out against inequality, racisim, lack of education, and the greed of nations like the US. In all that he was, he was self love. He did not live his life to go down in history, he lived his life to change the future. How many of us let that become a driving force for our lives? To live a life for something greater than you, allows someone else to live in gratitude...can you believe that? Think of Icons lost in the last 2 years or so such as Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson. In some way or another, they all stood for a greater purpose of empowerment and life fulfillment. Because of their lives, they've affected billions of lives, dreams and passions. Yet imagine if they did not live their purpose; for that reason, our lives would be a little bit different...which is something to be grateful for. I believe when individuals bodies are put to rest, their spirit remains. Their spirit along with their legacy; whether its a global notable figure or a family member, finding a story in their legacy makes us all a little more grateful. We say things like, "I'm grateful I woke up this morning! or Grateful for having health." Whatever it is, stay grateful and in the midst of your gratitude think about what actions could you take EVERYDAY to impact another life? How can you love harder? better? more authentically? Think about how your actions will affect your legacy, and how might it impact another's gratitude? Think about, what are you grateful for? What privileges exist in your life that you take for granted?
In your reflection, think upon some of Mandela's most notable quotes:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” --Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” --Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.” --From a letter to Winnie Mandela, 1975
Written By: Tiffany Wright