Tonight the world lost a towering statesman.
In a world replete with tin man politicians, the death of even one statesman impoverishes us all.
Tomorrow the mindless babel that we call the press will shove the petty quarrels of mankind and their trivial triumphs to the second page and invest myriad words in celebrating the life of a man who changed history.
Against that outpouring of finely crafted words by those who knew him well or studied him deeply, I yet dare to add a simple homage that will surely be overlooked by most.
Nelson Mandela was crafted by God with infinite precision. He was designed with the redemptive gift of Mercy, placed in a Ruler tribe, orphaned early and taken to grow up in the shadow of a great tribal leader who modeled government for him on a smaller scale.
All this was part of God’s grand design to lead a suffering nation through an unparalleled transition.
In the Sapphire culture, the Mercy gift is so often feminized. Against that unfortunate misperception, Nelson Mandela stands tall as a very male Mercy, who took manhood to staggering levels in the eyes of the entire world without ever compromising his core design — the Mercy gift.
I recommend his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”. If you know a male Mercy, you should read this book — several times — or listen to the audio version if you are not a reader.
A hundred vignettes teach us much about what it takes to grow a world class Mercy man.
There is one that captures for me the essence of the finely honed male Mercy.
His release from captivity went by stages, leaving Robben Island and eventually being taken in triumph to Cape Town to address the masses with his unequivocal demand of one man, one vote. Nothing less.
That final day, when he knew he would be released, he asked that the wives of the prison guards be present for his release.
Now ponder the big picture.
The eyes of the world were going to be on the man who had been hidden for a quarter of a century. He would be making a speech that would be broadcast around the globe. The political pundits were absolutely certain that his release and the subsequent election would unleash a blood bath of epic proportions.
All this he knew.
All this he was taking into account.
All this was factored in to his decision to not present a conciliatory face to the White government that had freed him, but to throw down the gauntlet in front of the entire world, unbowed by pain of the past or fear of the future.
And yet . . .
. . . two hours before the lion roared in Cape Town, this Mercy leader took the time to speak gently to the fearful wives of his White guards and to personally assure them that there would never be any vindictive action taken against their husbands once he was in power.
What vast capacity to feel the nuances of pain in a cluster of people fairly peripheral to his main pathway.
What exquisite manhood, in the Mercy key of music.
And now the world takes a step back and watches with respect while South Africa grieves the loss of their father, and celebrates his great life and historic legacy.
The world is a better place because God choose a very male Mercy to show us what that gift could be.
Copyright December 2013 by Arthur Burk
With tears and awe; grateful to have lived the same era as this giant