And so, just as I thought the world could not get much darker, Nelson Mandela dies. Expected, I suppose, but nevertheless sad.
I’m not going to talk about how much he inspired me, because I don’t think the way he affected me is any different from how he affected most [sane] people [who knew a bit about him]. That is not saying little; his legacy has meant a great deal both to the world and to me personally. I cannot enough emphasize the importance of people like Nelson Mandela. I cannot enough emphasize how important it is to stand up against injustice, great and small, even when it’s hard. It IS hard, otherwise people would to it a lot more.
There will always be crazy people with crazy ideas but they won’t change the world unless they are given the power to do so. Sadly, they too often are and sadder still, they often to find ways to persuade others that their crazy ideas are good. Taking apartheid as an example, I don’t think most people who lived under it were cruel. I think they were normal joes, who were just too lazy, too brainwashed or too scared to stand up against it. This is why we need people like Mandela, because someone has to take lead in the fight for justice. Someone has to show it’s possible to change the system, and encourage people to do so.
Still, it’s hard to understand so many people could live under apartheid and not try to end it. One might think it’s pretty obvious that a difference in appearance or origin is not equal to a difference in worth yet that seems to be a pretty common misunderstanding. In fact, it’s a misunderstanding that is getting more common in many parts of Europe.
We cannot choose our genetics or where we are born. We can, however, make choices. We can make the choice to listen to the other side. We can make the choice to vote for a certain party. We can make the choice to help someone. We can make the choice not to let an ugly nose ruin our lives. A lot of times, we can make the choice between doing what is right and what is easy*. In a time when neo-nazism is growing, making that last choice is just as important as always.
*Stole that one from Harry Potter.