Despite the universal disappointment that Nelson Mandela no longer walks this Earth with the rest of us, thank you for the bittersweet smile after reading “R.I. bishop: Mandela support for abortion shameful” (Dec. 10), in which Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin criticizes Mandela’s 1996 decision to let South African women choose their destiny if they feel unfit to make the lifelong commitment to continue their pregnancy and bring a child into this world.
While saints only exist in the dictionary, here on Earth (or on the football field in New Orleans), with human beings exempt from this honor, Mandela is a testament to how close a human can come to being one, considering his capacity for forgiveness and what this might mean for the future of his homeland. I think his triumph over bitterness, hatred, destruction and retribution is one of the most noteworthy accomplishments one can imagine, much less live.
Since an element of justice is people getting what they deserve, the perpetrators being free from punishment for imprisoning Mandela for 27 years does not seem right or just. Yet Mandela knew for the good of the country and the good of his people that South Africa needed the contributions from the oppressive white minority, with his triumph over his personal feelings for the greater good making him remarkably extraordinary. Bishop Tobin takes issue with Mandela’s life, whereas Pope Francis had nothing but kind words to say about him.
Life is of, by and for the living, and if the bishop wants to take issue with life on this Earth, there are billions upon billions of animals born into “Animal Auschwitz” every year (more than 9 billion chickens in the U.S. alone), “living” (more like dying) on factory farms that are a man-made hell for our animal friends before they’re brutally murdered and wind up as “dinner” on some carnivore’s plate. Improve your health and honor Mandela’s non-violence legacy by respecting life and moving toward a vegetarian diet.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Mandela said. The power of Mandela’s legacy is to respect the living however and wherever you may find it. Life really is a preciously fragile thing with everyone and everything best pursuing their own idea of how to live it up to the point it impedes others to do the same.