Brian’s Reflection: Monday, May 9, 2011
There is no passion to be found playing
small – in settling for a life that is less
than the one you are capable of living.
Nelson Mandela; on this day, 1994, having
been released from prison after more than
20 years, he was chosen to be the President
of the Republic of South Africa
I careen between absolute cynicism and wild, irrational, idealistic optimism about us humans. Now, here is this glorious quote from President Mandela. It resonates deeply with me. There is a part of my soul, shaped as it has been over five decades by the Gospel and by the great wisdom of humanity - and yes, by the serendipity of having been born in such a privileged part of the World - which desperately wants to believe that every single human being should not have to be “be found playing small” ~ should never never never have to settle for “a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.
Then I think, “What about the person who is born in Darfur? In the slums of Mumbai? In one of the one-fifth of American families where children live hungry and in poverty? “ Are they to be held to the capability of their situation, never to escape from that, having to be satisfied with such restrictions? A lot of people would just say, “Well, that’s they way it is”. I can’t ….. and I don’t want to. I want to think that the World can change. That it can and will be different.
Dennis and I have been watching “South Riding” on Masterpiece Theatre. A youngish woman headmistress just before WWII, whose fiancé was killed in WWI, determined that “her girls” will learn how to do anything they want to do. She’s my heroine!
Alas, I think there are in our World far too many people who do not have the opportunity, for a multitude of reasons, even to envision a life of living it to the fullest of their capability. I so long for that to change! But: there are many who, with good teachers, could be encouraged and helped not to “play small”. Someone(s) taught Nelson Mandela this.
The vast majority of us will not be a Nelson Mandela on the World stage. It doesn’t matter. It’s relative.
Each of us can do what we can do to help each other not to “play small”.