[quote cite=”Nelson Mandela (1918-1913)” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela”%5DI learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.[/quote]
I’ve never been jailed in my life. I’ve been pulled over and ticketed and fined by police, but I’ve never been in jail. I was blessed to have been born in a democracy and been able to move into another democracy. Though some have mistreated me because of my national origin and ethnicity, those were not part of the government. There has not been a de jure plan to keep me from exercising my freedoms.
The morning that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, I was just another 11 year old kid watching the news, waiting for the news programs to end their coverage so I could watch television. I wondered why it was such a big deal that a man was being let out of jail. To that 11 year old kid in Texas, he was a criminal. After all, Mandela was being let out of prison for a reason. It wouldn’t be until later, in high school, when I had to write a paper on him, that I understood who he was and what he was about. And I was impressed.
Who in their right mind would spend 27 years in prison then come out and advocate for peace and reconciliation? Mandela was not an “ordinary” person. He understood his place in the world and what he had to do so that people wouldn’t suffer like he did anymore… People in South Africa, anyway. That meant putting aside any ill will he had toward the system and the people in that system that threw him in jail for almost three decades and to rebuild a country into something where people who were segregated by law would live and work and carry their country forward together.
In his death, Nelson Mandela now becomes a legend, something we all should be lucky to be one day.
Vaya con Dios, Nelson. Vaya con Dios.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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