I do not know how many of you are aware that tonight is the event “Cover the Night” in reference to the awareness raising for Joseph Kony. I had written a brief little blog on it a few weeks ago, and even though I am not actively participating in this event, it did make me really start to think about issues in Africa. For the past few years since I watched “Invictus” I developed a greater interest in Nelson Mandela’s story and the historical and present plight that many African tribes and people are going through (and have been going through for centuries now). I bought Mandela’s incredible autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” I was automatically surprised how very honest and straightforward the book was. I still haven’t finished it- because being an english major means you don’t have a whole lot of time for your own reading, and if you look it up it is HUGE. But anyways, it really just opened my eyes to many things going on in Africa. Then, this semester I had to read “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe which was a postcolonial book outlining the changes the African culture was forced to go through and the disputes and conflict that ensued. But having read both of those books, I started to understand that the problem in Africa isn’t that the people are poor, but they have fallen apart and struggle within themselves to pick up the pieces. In many ways, they are experiencing a battle of cultures and beliefs.
So, it did make me think maybe we shouldn’t get involved. Maybe it is something they must sort out for themselves. But the more I think of all the different points of the argument and situation, it is just way too complicated for me to actually be able to say “I have the solution for world peace!”
There is one thing that all this does make me realize though, that I am incredibly blessed and have the ability to want better for our world. I remember a quote that Nelson Mandela had said in his book, he said, “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Maybe I won’t ever know the real meaning of life or what is right and wrong, and maybe I will never really know the right way to go when it comes to complex problems, but I do know that I can do something with the life I am given. Nelson Mandela endured harsh imprisonment for 9,000 days because he stood up for injustice. When he was released, he eventually became President and worked alongside the exact same people who had put him in that jail cell. Wow. I couldn’t imagine for one, not being able to be free, but also to forgive those that confined and abused me. He always, always took what life gave him, and accepted it for what it was, and did his best to make it better, not just for himself, but for everyone. I don’t know if I could ever do that, I fret over so many small things. My eyes are definitely wider, my heart more empathetic, and my mind more understanding. People like those who fight everyday for the freedom of others, they will always inspire me and remind me of what I am lucky to have, even if I choose to make a smaller difference in my own life. 🙂
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~William Ernest Henley