, Muskogee, OK

December 6, 2013

Mandela’s legacy will live on

— The world lost one of its best leaders, ambassadors and statesmen with the passing of Nelson Mandela.

While we should mourn his passing, it is more important that we celebrate his life.

He stood for freedom and equality. He abolished apartheid in South Africa.

But the way he went about it spoke volumes of his character. He sought peace with those who oppressed him — even after being jailed for 27 years.

The Associated Press reported Mandela’s death deprived the world of one of one of the great figures of modern history and set the stage for days of mourning and reflection about a colossus of the 20th century who projected astonishing grace, resolve and good humor.

There will never be another Nelson Mandela.

In the 1950s, Mandela sought universal rights through peaceful means but was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for leading a campaign of sabotage against the government. The speech he gave during that trial outlined his vision and resolve.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people,” Mandela said. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Thankfully, he didn’t have to die for that. He got to live and see the fruits of his effort.

Though he is gone, his legacy will live on.

As it should.