It's 8,569 miles from Anderson, Indiana, to Johannesburg, South Africa. But the enduring message of peace, equality and goodwill projected by Nelson Mandela traversed that distance with power and clarity.
Mandela, the South African whose leadership struck down the racist government system of apartheid in his homeland, died Thursday at age 95.
While the world mourns his death, the brilliance of his life resonates as strongly as when he was released in 1990 after 27 years of political imprisonment. Four years later, in the first South African election open to voters of all races, Mandela was elected president.
He preached a message of hope and tolerance, while demanding without compromise that racism be rooted out of South African government.
He will be remembered in Anderson, Indiana, and around the world as a pioneer in civil and political rights. But — like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi — he is historically revered as much for his method as for his results.
Many would have been profoundly bitter after such a long imprisonment. Many would have turned, under the yoke of a government that oppressed his people, to a violent or military solution. But Mandela confronted the apartheid system not with slings and arrows, but with good humor, forgiveness and logic.
Mandela is arguably the most important global political figure of the second half of the 20th century, and the change he fomented has and will continue to have a positive impact on millions of people.
Mandela shined a beacon for justice — and that beacon remains clearly visible from 8,569 miles away.
In summary While the world mourns Nelson Mandela's death, the brilliance of his life resonates as strongly as when he was released in 1990 after 27 years of political imprisonment.