Why Mandela is Remarkable

“Nelson Mandela was born into life as an undesirable provincial subject under the dominion of one of the most powerful empires this world has ever seen. He grew up into, and was imprisoned by, an almost incomprehensibly vicious and racist state, whose hate for leaders like him and his people would have justifiably broken any man, and indeed killed many. But he died free and he died a hero, the likes of which rarely appear on this world. The empire that birthed him was whittled away from overreach and the growing awareness of the importance of self-determination. The state that jailed him choked to death on its own bile and contradiction, dying alone and rejected by right-thinking people around the world. He outlived his emperors, his oppressors, his jailers, and he did it all with a kindness and an optimism that still seems impossible. We’ll never see his kind again, and perhaps that is for the best: I don’t want the circumstances that shaped his indomitable spirit and unshakable hope to exist again on this earth. But we’ve lost something today that we can’t get back, and for that, I weep.