Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Funeral Party

Nelson Mandela's body traveled to his home village in the deep country, his remains encased in a flag-draped coffin barely visible through the sleek Mercedes with thick armored glass. South Africans that traveled great distances to catch a glimpse were thwarted by heavy security blocking the route; an ironic game plan for this man of the people.

When John F. Kennedy died from an assassin's bullet, his funeral took on a very different tone. His widow and other dignitaries walked through the streets of the Capitol behind a horse-drawn cart carrying the President's body. In JFK's hour of death, his funeral decor harkened back to the days when a revolution freed the country from a foreign king's greedy rule. This simplicity evoked a message, even if the military-industrial complex failed to take note.

Mandela's funeral also sent a message. The man who stood up to honor a maid because she was a lady - in the midst of a conference with heads of state - sent a powerful message straight from a golden heart. Had Mandela passed away with the clarity of mind to dictate his funeral, it might have looked very different. And cost the taxpayers of his country much less.

As South Africa moves on with Jacob Zuma at the helm - the man who spent $20,000,000 government dollars on his private house renovation (yes!) - the legacy of Mandela will continue to fall by the wayside. The best hope for this country lies in peaceful elections, fruitful dialogue and people of conscience to step in.

South Africa is not the only country still in the throes of childbirth. Planet earth is also undergoing a difficult passage. Do we allow our governments to run away with the goose that lays the golden egg, to slaughter her for immediate gratification? Or do we nurture her so that she continues to give forth sustenance for the many?

All of us must decide, and after making that decision take an action. Large or small, every drop in the ocean contributes to its body.

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