I couldn’t help but cry when I listened to the news reports of President Mandela’s death. He deserves the reward he will receive for a life well-lived, and I’m really happy that he has transitioned to the Better Place. But I will miss his presence–it somehow comforted me to know that such a wonderful soul was still living among us.
I fully appreciate President Obama’s recognition that President Mandela had helped to bend that evocative moral arc of the universe further towards justice. I was also pleased to learn that President Obama had participated in TransAfrica’s year long March against Apartheid in front of the South African Embassy, led by another great voice for justice, Randall Robinson. Some of you may recall that many notable people were arrested in those daily protests. I was one of the many unnamed people who marched but were not arrested.
President Mandela’s life and legacy speaks volumes to the world about hope–the impact that can be made by of one person of faith dedicated to a just cause. It’s encouraging for the world to be reminded of his great victory in freeing his people from a racist, cruel and evil system. Yes! We can make the world a better place!
Being reminded of President Mandela’s life achievements is the third of three major arc-bending happenings during the last week or so. The first was Pope Francis’ pointed attack on economic injustice and capitalism. Here’s a quote from the Pope in an excellent commentary in The New Yorker: “While the earnings of the minority are growing exponentially, so, too, is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. The imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules…. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything that stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” Right on, Pope Francis!
I believe this powerful statement made the Pope, who holds moral persuasion over millions and millions of people, did much to move that moral arc towards justice.
And so with President Obama’s speech just this week, saying that income inequality is the “defining issue of our time.” From an Associated Press Article: “President Barack Obama prodded Congress to raise wages and secure the social safety net as he issued an overarching appeal Wednesday to correct economic inequalities that he said make it harder for a child to escape poverty. “That should offend all of us,” he declared. “We are a better country than this.” Our president calls for more funds for children in poverty-stricken public schools, increasing the minimum wage and other specifics that will make a great difference in the lives of the poor here in America. Another powerful voice speaking volumes to millions of Americans and to the world, moving that moral arc towards justice. You rock, my President!
I believe that when people like Popes and Presidents use their power to help those with little power, change begins to happen.
But their voices are not all that is needed. Behind President Mandela’s lifelong odyssey was the African National Congress, millions of unnamed Africans who stood against Apartheid for many years, as well as grassroots people from around the world, unnamed folks like me who marched against what seemed like immoveable power.
There are millions of folks with good hearts who speak volumes by their every day work to help this world better reflect the good God who created it. They, too, are moving the moral arc of the universe towards justice.
The hearts of all of us unnamed heroes and sheroes are encouraged when we hear such powerful calls for justice from leaders like Pope Francis and President Obama. And our hearts are filled with hope when we ponder the success of those truly brave and faithful ones who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause of goodness, like President Mandela.
Do you think it’s possible that our world might one day rid itself of the idea that poverty is inevitable? Yes. We can!