It is said that one swallow does not make a summer. If this is indeed true then should we believe that one man can make a nation? I believe one man is indeed giving us the opportunity to reflect, to stand together and to map out a future (albeit in our own minds) for ourselves, our country.
I have been listening to the radio over the past weeks since Madiba’s passing and I hear a great deal about the “legacy” he left behind. The word legacy in and of itself is a past tense concept. And, in the case of this country, should it be? Should we only be remembering or should we be living the values he stood for?
My concern is that I hear many stories of how this great leader touched people’s lives. But, many of them are giving personal accounts of what he did when they met him; or how he smiled or hugged them. And yes, this is all good…we should be looking back on the person’s life and remember the moments where he touched one’s life proudly and fondly.
But more importantly, what are you going to do to be the change that Madiba really stood for? Are you also just one of those that jump on the band wagon, paying lip service, or are you seriously going to change your perspective on life, and live the values he stood for and believed in?
Are you going to be more compassionate, more forgiving, more humble, and will you also teach your children to grow up with those values to become the leaders this country so sorely lacks? Words are one thing, actions are quite another…
I wonder to what extent the one swallow might be able to be our summer. If indeed it does not make the summer, it could bring the summer, or at least signal the beginnings of a new epoch? Is that not what the great leader would have wanted?
Instead, even those that really don’t care…who never really cared, also jump on the wagon, paying tribute. It reminded me of the time when my parents passed away some 20-odd years ago. There were many professional mourners. Ones I didn’t even know. And yes, I thank them for sharing the moment with us but then again, my father was a philanthropist – a good human being who shared his wealth easily with others; and I am not sure how many of those mourners followed his example.
We all grieve and mourn differently. And deaths are often a good time for reflection – reflection on one’s own mortality and, I think infinitely more important, a reflection on one’s own life going forward. While the world looks on, we should not forget that. It is easy to get lost in pomp and ceremony and forget the true meaning of this moment in our country’s history. I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t be a fraud. Don’t be false. Reflect and plan with intent, genuinely. My way of reflection is to look at the man and his words – words that he translated into deed. I am guided by many of his inspirational words. Words like these:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
“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.”
“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.”
Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine; that a child of farm workers can become the president of a country.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“We need to exert ourselves that much more, and break out of the vicious cycle of dependence imposed on us by the financially powerful: those in command of immense market power and those who dare to fashion the world in their own image.”
I believe Madiba, and what he stood for, is great enough to change an adage. It is my hope that he is the swallow that will make our summer…