Prisoner No. 46664. Hardly a lucky number, especially since it brought not luck, but lots of hardship and heartache for the 27 years Nelson Mandela wore it as his identity.
Maybe his greatest lesson then, now, and for all of history, is that he indeed was in prison but never imprisoned. Can we truly say that of us?
Out of all of the “Prison Stories” that I’m sure Mr. Mandela could have told, resented, and even retaliated against, the one that resounds with me the most might be when Prisoner No. 46664 was inaugurated as President of South Africa, he actually invited one of his prison wardens to be a guest at the ceremony. How can a human heart be so open? Asked in an interview to explain the way he avoided hatred after 27 years in prison, after apartheid, after all he and his loved had suffered, he brushed off the question and shook his head. Hatred clouds the mind, he said. It gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate.
Out of the things I “How Come?” “What For?” and “Why?” about… I seldom ask, HOW COME a person faced with all kinds of hardship and heartache can still love? Or, WHY wouldn’t revenge, when it rightfully and understandably should be sought and rendered, ISN’T? Or, just simply, WHAT FOR? What was the ultimate reason for all of THAT?
Maybe. . .Maybe, Mr Mandela’s greatest gift to us is THAT IT CAN BE DONE! Maybe the prison doors once opened to him after 27 years are now opened completely for all of us!
Maybe the greatest question now is, like Prisoner 46664, will we walk through those unlocked, wide opened doors not only to our Freedoms, but the for the Freedoms of others?
Time told it for Prisoner 46664–it’s waits. . .waits to see what it will tell about us. . . .