Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela in my life

When I was in the fifth grade there was a program in the Finnish TV where professional actors did short sketches of words they were given. An actress recieved the word "apartheid" and you could she that she had a lot of problems with the word while other actors did their words. Finally it was her turn and she said: "Apartheid is a traffic sign where white people go to the right and black people to the left."

I did not know at the time what apartheid was and I asked my father if this was true. It struck me very odd that if the definition was something that simple why she would have so much trouble with the word. And why my parents found her explanation of the word so accurate and witty.
There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
Nelson Mandela

That was the beginning of my adventure in the human rights and justice. A theme that I have had many encounters with, I fell in love with and fought about with God many times.

Why is the world so UNJUST? That was my recurrent thought during my early teens and adolescence. Why God lets injustice happen? Since then I have been searching answer to this question.

Finally I was able to find out what apartheid was and it made a very profound impact on me. I think it was one of the definive moments of my life. The feeling of injustice and need to aid south-africans with their fight for freedom and justice.

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
Nelson Mandela

Something excelent about Mandela was that he was alive, unlike Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi, people that I learned to admire also. I could see the way these people fought for many things that Jesus was about. But there were differences. And those differences made me even more interested. And my quest to understand these subtle differences led me to read even more Bible and wonder even more about what God really wants in our lives.

There is much controversy about Mandela's life. He was denounced as a Marxist terrorist and even though he won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. In South Africa he was despised as a criminal and respected as Tata (father), he has been even described as "the father of the nation". 

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Nelson Mandela

I can still remember the fear you could sense in the white people, even through TV set, when Mandela became the first black president of South Africa on May 10th 1994. I can also remember how he choose de Klerk his first Deputy President working to reassure South Africa's white population and building "the Rainbow Nation".

When he oversaw the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Comission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid, for me, it was an example of the forgiving Jesus taught us. I could only wish one day my heart would be big enough and my roots strong enough in Our Lord, to be able to forgive the same way.

But at the same time, I returned to the same question. Why does God condone injustice?

I know we live in a world full of sin, in a fallen world. I know we have free will. But these were only words for me. If God is onmipotent, there must be a way...

If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
Nelson Mandela

Mandela, or Madiba, his Xhosa clan name, was a person of great controversy. But to me personally, he represents a choise to let go, to forgive and see beyond your personal injuries. A legacy worthy to follow.

And this leads to my answer. There is another legacy, even bigger one. There is the answer. Sadly it isn't a fix it all, easy answer. God had to be made flesh and die for us to end unjustice. And only if we let go ad forgive, if we are able to see beyond our personal injuries there can be justice. It can only happen in God if He wills it and it can only happen in us if we let go.

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