letter, Daily Local News, 12/9/13
We call many people heroes. Heroes come and go.
But one hero has been my own greatest hero for most of my adult life: Nelson Mandela. May my hero rest in a peace that life too often did not bring to him.
I have never known of anyone more deserving of the name, “hero,” than Nelson Mandela. He has inspired so many millions. I cannot think of another human being who has inspired so many.
While I was in high school, then college, then law school, then working in my own profession for many years, Nelson Mandela was in prison. I think it is that fact that simply boggles my mind: That Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during much of my own youth and adult life – but then “rose from the ashes” to lead his country to freedom. When I first heard of this man and his struggles, I was overwhelmed – and no human experience has ever impressed or overwhelmed me more.
I write this letter after hearing the news here in Moscow, the Russian Federation, where I have spent a good part of the past two years teaching young lawyers as my own meager effort to help them create a new “civil society” in a country that too many Americans would have willingly and easily destroyed as our enemy. Nelson Mandela inspires me every day to keep focused on the visions that he fostered in me and countless others. Even though he has left this Earth, I will continue to let his message drown out the naysayers and the pessimism that we often must deal with every day when we think about the world’s complex problems.
May he rest in peace as his memory lives on to inspire others as he has inspired me.
Thank you, Nelson Mandela.