HAPPY MANDELA DAY!
"It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build." - Nelson Mandela
If I've learned anything from the past six months it is to try my best to be a positive force to those around me. To believe in people and to be kind to all. The alternative is to live a life of fear, anxiety and distrust and that is NO WAY to live! Today, Saturday July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day and would have been is 102nd birthday.
NOT GONNA PLAY SUN CITY
The first time I ever heard of Nelson Mandela was in the 1980s. The song by Artists United Against Apartheid - Sun City (you can listen to the song here) was jaw-dropping. I couldn't imagine that any people were treated with such disregard and injustice as in South Africa. Apartheid was shocking to me at an age that made a huge impact on my consciousness. Even at an early age I could feel injustice that I saw in a way I didn't understand. Speechless, I couldn't communicate the shock and anger I felt inside but it was definitely an awakening from my safe hometown life and existence.
The news at that time was about a man named Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 years and was finally set free. Well, free from being locked up at least. Why was he jailed? Because he was Black and was a political activist against the Apartheid government. The personal and professional sacrifices Mandela endured is beyond anything I had ever thought possible. You can read more about his life here.
What can we learn from Madiba's legacy? Look at what the Nelson Mandela Foundationfocuses on, which is "finding sustainable solutions to the problems confronting humanity" and deep dialogue to transform society. Celebrating this day is a reminder of how to be a good person. Its objective is to " inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so, to build a global movement for good. Ultimately, it seeks to empower communities everywhere." I support this 150%.
THIS CRAZY YEAR
This year, 2020, the start of a new decade in a relatively new century, is the time to stop us in our tracks and focus on humanity. People are people and must be treated without judgement regardless of ourpersonal preferences or ideologies. The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging our nation and the entire world at the moment. What we thought might be a few 'annoying' weeks of quarantine and working from home as spread to seven months of crisscrossing information, bungling rules or lack there of and the strongest longterm uncertainty of our lives. What is particularly poignant to me is the ironic position of those who refuse to wear a mask when they are out in public. A mask is a way to ensure your own health and safety as well as those you encounter. It is the same as wearing a seatbelt in some way. It is something you do to prevent injury. The irony is seeing anti-mask protesters yelling that wearing a mask is somehow impinging on their rights. Are these the same people who deny women's reproductive rights? The idea that a government can, and does, mandate by law women cannot make a personal decision about their own health and future care of a child for the rest of their lives? Do they not see the double standard in this line of thinking? Government should be invasive for women's health but wearing a mask is a violation of their rights? In my opinion this is absurd, destructive, hypocritical and obnoxious to our communal intelligence. I feel angry and disgusted by this behavior.
ROCK THE BOAT
As a white woman, I grew up to feel that I should not make a fuss or 'rock the boat' and stay 'in my lane' so-to-speak. My fear of speaking my mind was powerful and I allowed it to stifle my voice. Why is that? It makes me angry that I allowed that to bully my own behavior of not speaking out against injustice. Not today. Today I am speaking out against the extreme injustice, double-standard, white supremacy over those who can't speak up for themselves and to support the voices that are speaking loudly against injustice. The bullying I feel as a white woman is no match for the bullying done to BIPOC and I won't be quiet about it anymore.
To those who are scared of equality can learn more about how it feels to be undervalued, undermined, prevented from any success, education and progress. Read, watch, talk to people who don't look like you and LISTEN. Don't speak. Don't say, 'but...' Don't defend. Just listen, really hear and digest it all. Take in the information. Try to put yourself in others shoes and imagine if that was you. What would you do? Would you be angry, hurt, distrustful, defeated? Once you can feel that feeling of being held back, you can try to understand why there are protests today to change the course of action for the good of the entire population.
It is very disarming to talk to others and hear their stories. The armor you might be wearing will inevitably melt away once you hear from others what they have been through. Listen on a human level, without preconceived notions, stereotypes or political baggage. It will change perceptions and notions and hopefully will allow you to talk to younger generations about the importance of equality.
We are all just human beings trying to live our lives the best way we can.
It's hard to speak up. It's hard to put yourself out there and risk losing friends or being ostracized. However, wouldn't you want to know what those people's values are and decide if YOU want to be THEIR friend?
Be good to yourself and be kind to others. You don't know what their journey has been so don't make assumptions or snap judgements. We're in this together so act like it and do the right thing by others.
I wish you a HAPPY MANDELA DAY! Today, try to do one thing to "make peace and build."
In humble gratitude,
P.S. the photo above is of me standing next to a massive statue of Nelson Mandela in Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg, South Africa.