I was going to write a breezy post about how everyone should go to Midnight Madness (or Mayhem, or Mischief, or Moogawoogawooga, or whatever it's called now) tonight but there's some more important stuff going on in the world. Because yesterday Nelson Mandela was lost to the world but claimed by eternity.
When I think about this great man and consider his impact upon South Africa and the world, I can not help but feel small and insignificant. And the things that concern me, that even concern the community around me-- again, all pale in significance.
This has been said time and time again, and I don't think it can be said enough. When Mandela was freed after 27 years in jail for his beliefs on racial equality, he could have made South Africa burn. And I'm not sure the world would have stopped him. But what he taught instead was reconciliation, tolerance, love, humility, and the passion to work for a better way. And a nation followed.
How big are our differences-- in our families, our communities, state, even nation-- that they can't be met with the same feelings? How important are our challenges that they can't be addressed in the same manner? I'm going to say, not too big. I think about some of the recent local kerfuffles and their puniness truly makes me sad.
Speaking as only one man, and being very aware of my emotional inventory and thus aware of where I have been selfish and self centered, I feel pretty small today. Because although we all, even Nelson Mandela, are born human, we have choice in how to walk through our lives. And sometimes there is entertainment and irony and satire in snark and sarcasm. But sometimes there isn't. And I can't be responsible for others, but I can be responsible for me.
And that's Mandela's greatest lesson to me. Believe and act in a manner consistent with your beliefs. You don't need to change people's minds on how they should act, but you can get people to follow you. And when you attract followers, the light invariably, consistently, burns away the darkness.
Happy National Sacher Torte Day! Let's be careful out there.