For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”- Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela, respectfully referred to as Madiba, turns 95 years old today. Madiba devoted his life to fight for racial equality and social justice in South Africa. He led the struggle in South Africa to replace the apartheid governmental regime with a multi-racial democracy. During his 27 years of imprisonment for political activism, he refused to compromise his political opinions in order to garner an early release and continued to fight for what he believed in. For his brave actions, today he is known as more than just a man. He is a symbol of justice. Even as his health declines steadily, what he stands for and what he represents remains strong.
In honor of Madiba and the work he has done, the United Nations has declared today, July 18, to be Nelson Mandela International Day. They ask that people around the world honor Madiba and the 67 years of his life that he devoted to the struggle for human rights by spending 67 minutes of their day today in the service of others. The theme of the day is to “take action, inspire change,” just as he did during his lifetime involvement with the African National Congress (ANC) and his fight for racial equality in an apartheid South Africa. Ban Ki-moon has said that “this is the best tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who embodies the highest values of humanity.”
So what can you do for your fellow man to honor Madiba’s name? The options are limitless. You could spend your day educating friends and loved ones about a social or environmental issue that is important to you. You could spend some time picking up litter from the sidewalks or in a local park. For those interested in a longer time commitment, there is no need to stop at just 67 minutes or even at just today. You could go volunteer at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter or hospital. Want more ideas? Check out the official Nelson Mandela Day website or any of the resources listed in the Pearltree below to find opportunities that interest you in your community. Any difference you make in your community, no matter how small, will still be a change for good.