Mandela is dead, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel a cold, dark shadow saturating the space he filled.
I see a blundering, incoherent, and yes, blatantly (almost celebratory) racist blunt shape or spirit taking over like some toxic cloud-like soul-contagion.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does human history.
It will take many to fill, heal and hold at bay the rancid cold fear that has been percolating for so long, just waiting for its barren opportunity.
The hatred of President Obama, the Pope and now Mandela has reached a fever pitch, perhaps even a tipping point.
I’ve been grieved and discouraged before, but I have never, in all my studies of history, seen a people and a culture so determined to suffocate itself on its own cold-hearted, but somehow gruesomely gleeful, fear-filled fantasies.
Mandela’s dead, but it’s not so much that he died as that the hope he had, and the hope that he encouraged us to have in ourselves that has died.
We’ve had so few heroes in the past few decades, that to lose one of this stature is like watching an endangered species go extinct.
Human greatness is rare enough, even more rarely appreciated before it is lost forever.
Mandela’s greatness was perhaps forced upon him, but he wore it gracefully, and we, desperately apparently, needed someone to believe in.
When we, on a human level, can’t find someone worthy to believe in, we will find ourselves believing in, or fearing, almost anything.
We live in an era where, not only do we not have heroes, we have lost our ability to hold our leaders and statesmen in esteem.
We can only give our leaders what we have inside ourselves; fear, distrust and contempt.
Perhaps it is not so much that we do not have great leaders (with ample human failings, of course) but that we ourselves have become so short-sighted, petty and fractious.
It is not our lack of great leaders worthy of us that is the problem – we are not worthy of great leaders.
Even those of us far from Mandela’s orb can feel the deflation of spirit, courage and the possibility of restoration in the wake of his passing.
It has been said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, but I have seen too many people enraged and intoxicated by their fear, and I know that fear is the psychoactive drug of choice for many who perhaps have had nothing to believe in and now have nothing to restrain them.
Mandela mattered because we needed him to matter.
But now that we’ve lost another voice that reminded us who we could be, who will we listen to now?