It’s Mandela Day, today, July 18. Does everybody know? Does anybody care?
It’s so hard to care these days, living in this world of ours.
Honour killing. Attempted coup. Terror attack. Mass shooting. And that’s just the last week.
Oh wait, Trump. Can’t leave out Trump. It’s so hard to care in these Trumped up Times. Mandela Day can feel like little more than a passing, sentimental ode to a time when Leaders actually led.
But maybe, more than ever, we need to care about Mandela Day 2016. Not for a brief dose of feel good; nor for a short episode of doing good. But because we need to see Mandela Day 2016 as an opportunity – a chance – not just to change our worlds, but to create new ones.
That’s what Mandela did, right? He tried to create a new reality for South Africa. His magic – the reason we honour him yearly – is not because he led a process of ending apartheid, but because he led a frightened, divided nation towards creating the New South Africa.
Mandela knew the difference between an Ending and a Beginning.
He knew the difference between Fighting against something evil and Fighting for something just.
Mandela knew it took principles to denounce what was Wrong, and courage to work towards creating something Right.
He knew his job wasn’t just to Change something bad, but to Create something better.
Yes, Mandela’s vision was imperfect, and yes his work remains woefully unfinished. But he was brave enough to attempt to lead a wounded nation towards creating a beautiful alternative. And that’s why we honour him.
This Mandela Day 2016, make a list of everything you want change about The World. Then throw it out. Now make a list of what you’re going to create in Your World. (It’s a shorter list, I know. A scarier one.) And hold on tight to that Creation List, that Creative List. Put it somewhere safe, refer to it often, and let it guide you in the year ahead.
This Mandela Day, let’s start creating beautiful alternatives to these Trumped up Times. It’s what Mandela showed us was possible. It’s how we honour him best.