On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday Wednesday, we were reminded via social media to remember the former president of South Africa as a champion for human rights, dignity and freedom.
Imagine the impact we could have if everyone followed his example and tried to make a difference in the lives of others.
I never met the man but followed his story. He was an anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist, who served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. His negotiations in the early 1990s with South African president F.W. de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule.
Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 for their efforts.
I believe it was comic Stephen Wright who penned: “I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
Joking aside, the horrific treatment before and after Mandela was imprisoned shocked the world yet nothing was done to change the situation.
That we honour extraordinary people like Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., John. F. Kennedy and Mother Teresa on their birthdays tells me the world does realize that kindness matters.
Vernon, despite its growing drug problem and homelessness, is still a pretty safe place to raise a family. When I was running around the East Hill in the 1960s and ’70s, my friends and I were gone all day and our parents never worried about us as long as we showed up somewhere for dinner. I doubt if the same thinking occurs today.
You can stumble across violence or wrong-doing anytime, anywhere in any country. Your chances rise in several American cities.
St. Louis, where televised games of the baseball Cardinals show a happy and peaceful existence, is the murder capital of the U.S. with 60 kills per 100,000 people. That’s staggering. Baltimore, at 55 murders, and Detroit, at 43 murder per 100K, round out the top-three.
At No. 30 is the small city of Waco, Texas, population 130,000, where there are 17 murders per 100,000.
Vernon, Kelowna and bigger centres like Victoria and Calgary don’t come close to rating a mention in any such crime list.
We should feel grateful to live where we do but are we all striving to make a difference? Are we performing random acts of kindness on a busy day?
We recently lost longtime businessmen and all-around fabulous guy Gerry Obrecht to cancer. Gerry O, as he was affectionately known, would give you the golf shirt off his back, buy you dinner and send you home in a limousine. Gerry was all class 24/7.
There are scores of people like him in this community. Some, sadly, I will never meet. Others I see all the time or follow through this newspaper. Some are doers and we all know a little something about them. Some do wonders, quietly, and we know zero about their lives.
The Pay It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness acts have been going for years, but there is always more we can do as a society.
Here, then, as we approach International Peace Day in September, are a few of my favourite quotes on world peace.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind,” – Mahatma Gandhi.
“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind,” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come,” – Henri Nouwen.
Have a nice day and please try and show a little tenderness.