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If the measure of greatness of a life well lived is measured by the tributes that pour out from around the world on their passing, then, President Nelson Mandela was indeed a great man. At the age of 95, surrounded by family, in the country of his birth, the country which he helped end racial discrimination (apartheid) in, the country which he was imprisoned in for almost thirty years – and of which he then became President(!) – President Mandela passed peacefully onto a higher plane.

But his life was anything but full of peace. Most of us know (or can learn more) about that with a stroll over to Wikipedia. The struggle, the challenges, the set-backs, the physical and mental battles – they are all well documented in many many books and websites. However, that all became “history” in the early 1990s when Madiba (as he is affectionately known by many) was eventually freed, and his lifelong struggle for his ideal (an ideal that he was willing to die for) – that ALL the people in South Africa – blacks and whites alike, should be treated equally – came to a victorious conclusion.

However, I believe that what made “Madiba” stand apart, and be respected universally as a “giant among men” was his willingness to forgive to Unify. He forgave those who imprisoned him for the larger part of his “productive” life (from age 44 to age 72) and turned them into his partners! He understood that in order to build a nation that would have long-lasting peace – a unity of hearts, minds and spirits was essential. His love for love, peace, unity and harmony made him recognize that, above all, we all have more within our spirit that unites us, than divides us.

Nelson Mandela 2008 age90 via Wikipedia

Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished – Nelson Mandela

It is perhaps that – his Unifying Spirit – that inspires so many to celebrate a life well lived, lived fully, lived with purpose, lived to bring Peace and Unity across the world. Isn’t that what all of us are trying to do ourselves? So, thank you, ‘Madiba’ – for being the mirror, being the light to many. Your light will always shine in millions of hearts, and encourage us to be live our lives so we can be Unifying Spirits too.


P.S. It is no coincidence (or is it?) that my daughter’s Christmas concert on Saturday concluded with a rendition of the song… “One Song for Peace” – yet another reminder of all that unites us.

P.P.S. This framing post was written for our live twitter conversation on Sunday mornings – Sunday, December 8th at 9am ET. Join us on twitter or at at http://chat.spiritchat.org as we discuss and celebrate all that unites and unifies us. Namaste!

Postscript: Full transcript (including statistics) for #SpiritChat held Dec 8th 2013 via #hashtracking – Thanks to all who shared 🙂 bit.ly/sc-tr-1208. In addition, A Hand-Curated Transcript – with love, for better reading, is available via #storigy at bit.ly/sc-st-1208 – Namaste 🙂

Q1. Those who have the effect of a “Unifying Spirit” on our world – what makes them so? #SpiritChat

Q2. What is the essence of Unity? Thoughts? Words? Actions? Or… #SpiritChat

Q3. What KIND of Unity adds the most value to our daily life, our spiritual growth? #SpiritChat

Q4. Is dissent an indication of the lack of a Unifying Spirit? Why or why not? #SpiritChat

Q5. “World Unity is merely the dream of romantics.” Agree/Disagree? Why? #SpiritChat

Q6. Is it possible to have Unity of faith? Is it even necessary for spiritual growth? #SpiritChat

Q7. What is the connection between Unity, purpose and living a full life? #SpiritChat

Q8. Three action steps will you take – to be a Unifying spirit in your family, community… #SpiritChat