Looking Back to Move Forward: A Living Icon Turns 94

Today marks the 94th birthday of Nelson Mandela, one of the most inspiring people alive today, possibly ever. Trying to truly grok the magnanimous magnitude this of man makes my words fall away like a dandelion in the breeze. Instead, I’ll let him speak for himself, as he does best. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that one of my favorite passages,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 though used by Mr. Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech, is actually an excerpt from Marianne Williamson‘s book, A Return to Love.

The rest of these are Mr. Mandela’s own words, cross my heart and kiss my elbow!

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and see realized. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

One of my personal favorites, I made a picture for:

“The dream to build a child-centered society is a permanent mandate for the Fund to share with its local and global partners. The difference the Fund makes should see it contributing to the remaking of our world to be more familiar with the smiles of children than their tears.” Visit Nelson Mandelas’s Children’s Fund to learn more about his organization founded to change the was society treats its children.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Want to learn more? Watch this 12 minute documentary,
“The Life of Nelson Mandela” by the United Nations

“It’s in your hands to make the world a better place.”Nelson Mandela, 1998

46664: (Nelsona Mandela’s prison number) was started as a global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign and has expanded into encompassing all areas of Mr Mandela’s humanitarian legacy as well as confronting issues of social injustice

See today’s birthday-related posts from Elephant Journal and one commemorating Nelson Mandela’s birthday with information about current state of affairs in South Africa at The Grio. Also, check out the Nelson Mandela Digital Archives: a joint project of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory (NMCM) and the Google Cultural Institute.

Happy Birthday, Sir. And thank you.

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