This is not an article that is going to list or expand on all of Nelson Mandela's life achievements, as they are far too great and too vast to list. I am also sure there will be many (and rightly so) of such tributes over the next few days.
Instead, have you ever wondered why Nelson Mandela became an anti-apartheid activist? Why did he fight so feverishly for freedom and rights? Yes, there are so many people these days who also say they fight for freedom and rights on a daily basis. But why does Nelson Mandela stand out from many others who fight for the same things? To me, although his actions and accomplishments have impacted the world immensely, it is the reason behind his actions that will have a more poignant and long lasting impact on the world. It is this reason that makes him stand out of many other activists. For it is not an activist's actions and achievements that define them - it is their motives that distinguish one activist from another. Nelson Mandela fought for his people out of love, and this was what drove him to do what was right until the very end.
His message was and is still so clear: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - we need to be constantly reminded that not only do we need to learn to love, but that we already have the capacity to do so. Nelson Mandela was one who needed this reminder less frequently than others - he lived every day of his life carrying out actions in the name of love, and spreading this message to others too. Let's learn from him and continue spreading this message.
He also famously said: "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness." How can we see goodness in people and forgive them for their wrongdoings without loving them unconditionally?
Nelson Mandela was not just any activist - we looked at him and saw hope glaring at us because we knew he genuinely loved people unconditionally. When you know for certain someone loves you unconditionally, your hope and faith in that person remains strong. He fought because he truly cared - not for glory, nor for fame. Out of love. It may see like a naive notion in this day and age where we constantly seek intellectual answers. One may still continue search for more intellectually appealing answers to the causes behind Mandela's actions and achievements. Loving unconditionally is too simplistic a notion, you may think. Yet we all know it is a complex notion in practice - how many of us love others, out of out family and close circle of friends, unconditionally?
If only we can all just take one moment now, not just to grieve, but to focus our minds on the one thing we all forget constantly: loving one another. This is what I'm going to remember Nelson Mandela by, and we can pay tribute to him by practising what he preached every day of his life. Let's stop asking ourselves: "what will I get in return if I help X person do Y?" or "why should I help X person if I hardly know them?" - these are all conditions we create in our minds. Be honest: we have all been guilty of this at some point in our lives. We're not kids anymore, but sometimes adults can be a lot less altruistic than kids. Let these conditions fall, at least for today - think of Nelson Mandela; think of love, and act in the name of it.
Follow Jessica Chan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessicachan333