(as reprinted from the Chicago Tribune)
December 17, 2013
With the passing of Nelson Mandela, many of us reflected not only upon extraordinary achievements Mandela made in his fight to create a free South Africa, but paused to consider how his legacy has touched our personal lives. It was this sentiment that President Barack Obama expressed at the memorial service last week asking, “How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?”
For me, Mandela’s legacy is about courage. His inspirational message teaches us to fight for social justice when we see inequalities, and to take a stand, however small, to affect other’s lives in a positive way, especially those who need protection.
There are many in society who need protecting. From the children who fall through the cracks in the child welfare system, to parents who are unfairly denied the right to spend time with their children. With the holidays upon us, a glaring light shines upon the many injustices some families must endure.
Courage can take many forms, but usually entails risk and selfless dedication to the greater good. Mandela’s legacy teaches us to take that risk.
With Mandela’s passing, I hope we never forget the need to find courage in the face of society’s failures to help those who need it most. We can each honor his memory by taking the steps we can to protect society’s most vulnerable populations.
— Jeffery M. Leving, Chicago