We were just watching the last part of Invictus last night. We caught the last few minutes of the movie shown on TV and wondered why it was replayed when the station had just featured the film last Sunday. Still, we decided we would watch the last part from when South Africa was on the verge of winning the Rugby World Cup. What followed immediately after the win were various scenes showing how that country celebrated and how their people embraced each other despite their long history of conflict. South Africa had been implementing apartheid that had resulted in a segregation and animosity among the minority white and majority black citizens of the country. The film showed the influence and inspiration provided by their leader, a former political prisoner and activist, Nelson Mandela.
I, too, learned about Mandela when we were in Grade School. Part of our social studies education had been topics regarding events and situations in other countries. There we learned about what was state sponsored discrimination in the form of apartheid. It was as if they were living in a time when slavery and discrimination was the norm rather than an aberration in humanity. Mandela changed that, struggling to teach his nation, to teach the world that apartheid must end. And it did, and over time we saw a nation rise and, more importantly, forgive while not forgetting to bring justice to past crimes.
Mandela continues to inspire people and countries and a lot of quotes have been attributed to him (just look at Facebook now!) that also provides us with snippets of wisdom from a man who has been through a lot. Such is the impact of one man who refused to be overwhelmed by a system that promoted persecution and abuse, and that resulted to millions suffering. The struggle continues for South Africa to this day as well as for people in many other countries including ours. Hopefully, we can continue to learn from Mandela's example and emerge victorious from the problems we brought upon ourselves. Hopefully, we too will step up to do more and beyond expectations rather than just be something like fence-sitters or spectators in nation-building.