Comment: Mandela and keeping the faith

Mnikelo Ndagankulu sits on a hill overlooking former South African President Nelson Mandela's ancestral home of Qunu. (AAP)

Nelson Mandela wasn't a divine being - but his long walk to freedom against the backdrop of modernity teaches us a profound lesson, writes Renée Brack.

What if the Second Coming Of The Messiah happened and we all missed it?

The Bible suggests that Jesus would be back when life got hectic on planet Earth and it did in the war-mongering 20th century:

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7)

Matthew also reminded us:

“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42)

We were warned it would be the End Of Days as referred to in the bible’s Book of Revelations - not the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

So it may be no coincidence that Nelson Mandela was born in 1918.  The real-life hell of hand-to-hand combat in World War 1 trench warfare kicked off a century of unprecedented chaos, setting the scene for the Second Coming.

Mandela witnessed the Great Depression, World War 2, the Cold War and grew up to appose apartheid in South Africa.  His arrest in 1961 and 27 years of captivity saw him become a figurehead for social justice.

The arrests of Jesus and Mandela drew attention to their policies.

The two also exhibited many similar personal qualities.  They led not by force but by example in the transcendent practices of forgiveness, humility, frugality, compassion, mediation, patience, kindness, co-operation, generosity, fearlessness and reconciliation.

Each has been associated with miracles.  The biblical story of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and the fishes was a profound lesson in how to feed the masses simply by sharing.

Mandela’s retained sanity and forgiveness of his captors after 27 years in jail is miraculous, extending beyond most human ability and understanding.

His ascent from prisoner to president is another modern miracle.

Jesus also rose from a beaten prisoner then was elevated in scriptures to a deity.

Their ideologies are alike - morality, dignity and social justice for all.

Jesus’ basic message was do unto others as you would have them do unto you:

“Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”  (John 13:34-35)

And Mandela said at the opening of his defense in the Rivonia treason trial, April 20, 1964:

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities… it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Mandela received a life sentence which is, in effect, a metaphoric death.

Jesus too was prepared to die for his ideal of social justice.

Both prophets rose from their ‘deaths’ to reach improbable glory.

And now they share the miracle of immortality.

Instead of preaching violence, both advocated peace.  They showed us how to cause and effect the profound ripples of goodness that come from shunning revenge and seeking reconciliation.

So it is possible that Mandela might be the Messiah who’s second coming has been and gone.  We know Mandela is dead and no delayed or doctored reportage like in ancient times can re-write that fact, as was the case with Jesus.

Comedian Lenny Bruce makes an interesting point:

“If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.”

Our prophets show us how to make the world a better place and us, better people.

Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, John Lennon and Mandela – all gone.

Does that mean it’s time to put on our party hats and get ready for the Apocalypse? I guess the Doomsday preppers had to be right some day.

Renée Brack is a journalist, media producer and adventurer.

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