The Archbishop of York’s Pause For Thought on BBC Radio 2 On Marking Life of Nelson Mandela…
Today the world mourns the passing of a truly great human being – Nelson Mandela.
Mandela was a symbol of hope, an icon for fairness, and a beacon for reconciliation. His legacy will continue in our global village long after his body has been laid to rest.
Mandela was arrested and detained not for crimes against others, but for standing up for others. He turned the other cheek when he could have delivered swift retribution.
When he was eventually released from his incarceration in 1990, this great fighter for freedom used his liberty to work for peace and forgiveness throughout the nation and the wider world.
Even when he was twice given the reins of power through a landslide electoral victory, Mandela refused to indulge in vengeance. He realised that although the past could never be forgotten, old injustices must be put to one side if a new more hopeful future was ever to be realised.
The greater good of a nation depended on magnanimity, generosity, hope and trust. Mandela led the nation to freedom.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s vision of renewal through restorative justice was reflected in Nelson Mandela’s encouragement of black people to focus their rage into acts of reconciliation. We should all follow the example that Nelson Mandela has left us.
He was a true human being who stood up for lasting justice whilst suffering great personal injustice – defeating unfairness with hope.
As we remember Nelson Mandela, let us also remember the encouragement he gave everyone to be the people they were created to be. As he once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It’s our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”