Webster's Dictionary will have to seek and create new words to describe the greatness of Nelson Mandela. Existing words seem so inadequate to encompass this man's remarkable journey. One searches and searches for sentences, expressions or memories that somehow will capture the spirit of Mandela and each and every one fail to rise to what his death demands.
How fortunate in our lifetimes we will have witnessed his work.
This was a man who spent over two and a half decades in prison and came out filled with love and forgiveness for his oppressors. We watched as he created a powerful nation out of the horrors of apartheid that prospered in that atmosphere of forgiveness. One only has to contrast Zimbabwe and South Africa to measure the impact of his presence.
Although I was a small part of the fight against apartheid and spent time in jail over it, what is most important is that he taught me forgiveness, love in the face of oppression and the need to lift people up in the end. For the LGBT community, as we emerge from our own journey of oppression, the lesson is clear. We must enter this world as a free people with all of our gifts, talents, energies and joy to make it a better place. To rest in the bitterness of the past with misplaced righteousness would mean we have lost the lessons of a Mandela.
The young of South Africa owe their future to Mandela. The citizens of the world will learn from him for generations to come. In my lifetime, lived Gandhi, King and Mandela. This makes me the most wealthy man in the world to know of their work and their lives. Such great persons walk among us rarely and we must cherish them and their teachings.