The 95-year-old Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader, died on Dec. 5, 2013.
All his life, he had led to fight the policy of apartheid (the official system of race separation) by non-violent civil disobedience, for which he was held in the Cape Town prison for 27 years. He believed in reconciliation to change the country for justice, and he led by example to inspire many black leaders not to go to violence, but still, from time to time, some clashes broke out between police and black people to cause senseless death.
His great endurance of suffering and his perseverance were his strength to overcome the unbearable and win for his people civil rights and democracy. Of course, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected the first black president of South Africa. Amazingly, he stepped down after one term because he wanted another black leader to have the chance as head of the nation.
Today, people tend to credit Mahatma Gandhi as the first leader and social reformer to win independence for the Indian people, followed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King gave his life for the civil rights movement to fight the racial segregation in the South by means of non-violent civil disobedience to change America for justice: Who could forget his “I Have a Dream” speech and his great leadership role to move the country to the right path? What an incredible legacy.
Believe it or not, from just history’s viewpoint and in the Earthly term, the concept of non-violent civil disobedience began with Jesus Christ: Remember, under the hostile and bloody Roman occupation and control as well as under the synagogue dictation and domination, too many Jewish people were suffering. Here came Jesus Christ to preach love, peace, non-violence, and forgiveness. He stopped the masses from stoning the woman to death because of adultery, and he denounced the man with him for slashing off an ear of the high priest’s servant for being rude with this strong warning: “… Those who used the sword will be killed by the sword …”
No question, the wisdom of his message had moved many people to follow him. They felt he knew their desperation for help, changed their hopeless life situation, and he was just as frustrated and furious as they to see corruption. Like Christ, those great civil right leaders knew their life was on the line when they committed themselves by the non-violent civil disobedience to challenge powerful authority for social and political reform.
retired state worker