Today December 10, 2013, the world gathers to mourn the loss of a great man, a influential leader, and a champion for equality and justice. President Obama was among those who honored Nelson Mandela in a moving speech to the masses in the Johannesburg’s FNB stadium and to those watching via satellite around the world.
I spoke with a man who grew up in South Africa and I commented to him about the spotlight on his native country. I asked him what it was like growing up there in a separated society where the majority were oppressed. What he said shocked me. He said he didn’t know it was happening. He lived in a white world with no television and no radio. As a young boy, he was like all of us, caught up in his own life, and oblivious to what was going on around him.
It makes me think that I know many people who live in a bubble. They cannot fathom what it is like to be treated unfairly, discriminated against, or unjustly judged due to color, sex, or ethnic background.
I don’t see color. I see a human being. This spring, my son will marry a beautiful black woman who is smart, funny, outgoing, talented, and loving. I already think of her as a daughter, and I welcome her into our family. When I am around her, it never occurs to me that she is of a different race. I see a lovely young woman who makes my son very happy. I see someone who makes me smile and makes me laugh. Since she adores children, I know she will make an awesome mother to my future grandchildren.
The courage of Mandela, King, and Ghandi was a gift to us. A gift of change for a better world.
Photo “End Racism” by Victor Habbick