Today is an extremely sad day. Nelson Mandela, one of most courageous leaders, has passed away. South Africa –indeed, the whole world – is saying goodbye to a great human being and an incredible inspiration.
I am among the millions around the world who feel a deep sense of loss. The fact that Mr. Mandela lived to the age of 95 does not diminish in any way our feeling of immense grief; nor does the fact that his health has been frail for a while now, severely limiting his public engagements.
By the force of his amazing personality, his incredible achievements, his sweeping vision, his enormous generosity and his admirable values, Mr. Mandela’s presence served — and will continue to serve — as a beacon for all those who believed in the power of political good eventually overcoming divisive evil.
Fearing this sad day would come, I wrote on two occasions in the last two years about Mr. Mandela’s achievements and influence: The World Wishes Mandela Well and Needs Him in February 2012, and Celebrate Mr. Mandela Now and Also Later in March of this year.
I spoke of the spirit, commitment and humility that drove him as an activist, freedom fighter, unifier and nation builder. I spoke of the inner strength and values that sustained him during 27 years of (often-brutal) imprisonment under apartheid. And I spoke of the example that he set, not only for developing countries navigating complex political transitions but also for advanced countries marred in a quagmire of anemic growth, high unemployment, and rising inequalities of income, wealth and opportunities.
There will be lots of reminders in the next few weeks of Mr. Mandela’s historic successes. We should, and we will collectively celebrate not just what he achieved, but also how and why he achieved it.
Many will also fret about South Africa’s future now that the country has lost the moral compass that Mr. Mandela provided. And some will associate his passing with today’s more generalized malaise about political leadership around the world.
None of this should detract from how Mr. Mandela was, as I wrote over a year ago, the living embodiment of the greater good that truly committed and encompassing human beings are capable of. In life, and now in passing, Nelson Mandela always serves as the north star for all who aspire to a better and more just world.
Thank you very much Nelson Mandela – for all the good that you delivered to so many, and for all those that you helped, both in South Africa and well beyond. We are deeply indebted to you and, already, we miss you enormously. We will never forget you.