Mandela Unconquered

At times, I find it hard to be inspired. Regardless of the constant sources of it around me, my perception will be skewed and I just can’t feel it. This can happen when I am going through a particular challenging time. I’m frustrated, have lost a little hope perhaps, in need of a new solution for an old problem…you know those times, right?

With Nelson Mandela’s passing, his life’s story has been continually in the news. I am reminded of his astonishing accomplishments,
all of which include an element of peace and equality for humanity. What amazes me the most, however, is he had time to accomplish what he did despite the fact he spent twenty-seven years in prison. Although he lived until he was ninty-five, it is still almost a third of his life that was spent locked in a cell.

To achieve all that he did, I think Nelson Mandela must have been constantly inspired. Since he was human, I’m guessing he experienced feelings of fear and doubt at times throughout his life, but I feel he possessed some continual river of inspiration…Something innate within him.

His inspiration may have been a only a trickle at times, depending on what he was experiencing, but it never dried up. How do you explain coming out of prison after twenty-seven years with as much, or perhaps even more, purpose and passion for your cause then when you went in. Purpose and passion to prove change can be achieved through respect and peaceful resistance, no less… Not war and vengeance.

I am always fascinated to know what moves people who accomplish core shaking, positive global change with their time on earth. My niece reminded me of the poem Nelson Mandela had with him in prison and that he gave it credit for his survival during those long years. I knew a few lines by heart, but not in its entirety. As I took the time to read it, to me, the poem clearly mirrored South Africa’s beloved Madiba’s own character.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.

Invictus is the Latin word for unconquered. Individuals who grace our planet, go through incredible suffering , then promote change through only peaceful means, all for their love of the greater good, will never cease to amaze me. Their spirit is eternally Invictus.


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