The Significance of Mandela, the Man

by Travis Erbacher

I already addressed Mandela’s significance to the future of Palestine in a previous post, here I wish to address what Mandela means to me, and it may be a controversial idea.

Nelson Mandela was not a perfect human being.

Don’t let the flowery language following his death to fool you: Mandela was not a saint.

And that is why he is so important.

Mandela was enamored with communism in his early years, before later embracing democracy. Mandela was surrounded by people who were much more eager to embrace violence and sabotage than he, and fought alongside them.

I repeat, Mandela was not a saint. He was a man. He was a human being – one who made mistakes and had human limitations, but embodied the highest hopes of humanity: forgiveness, peace, tolerance, and self-transcending love.

Nelson Mandela was like you or I, a close relative of other mammals and if you go far back enough, a relative of every plant and animal on this planet. He was not magic.

Nelson Mandela was living proof that human dignity, the language of human rights, a belief in morality, social justice, peace and tolerance is enough on which to build a better tomorrow. No appeals to the supernatural or a higher power is necessary here. We, in our ordinariness, are enough.

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