Nelson Mandela’s legacy

Another rainy day, the internet down and watching live golf from Carton House in County Kildare, Ireland. There is probably more exciting television out there but I enjoy watching live sports. Wimbledon is another favourite of mine, but I don’t mix well with shrieking girls on tennis courts. It tends to distract me from the ‘plonk-plonk’ sounds of bouncing tennis balls. Golf it is so and strawberries and cream have been deferred to another day. The added rain and wind swirling around the house makes it look and feel like a perfect autumn day.

My face is back playing the trigeminal game since I stopped taking the Tetregol tablets. New medication is on the way so I look forward to being released of the intense pain that trigeminal is. But all that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is one of the nicer side effects of having too much time on my hands and having MS. Advocating better neurological and/or disability services in Ireland is something I’ve been involved in for over a year, and each time the feeling of joy keeps growing stronger. Why? Selflessly doing things for others is about the most gratifying thing there is.

The response to advocating has been fantastic so far. While meaningful laws or guidelines might take some time to be drafted and take effect, I am humbled by the way politicians, fellow MS patients and the general public are listening and willing to work on our pleas. In a world of often cruel politics and cold, harsh budget cuts, there is a silver lining running through received emails, phone calls and blog posts.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that
respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Nelson Mandela

It’s my belief that everyone has a message they want to bring, that each of us want to strive for better things. Having been a philanthropist most of my life, my heroes were therefore people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and others that stood up against all odds and changed the lives of many.

The first use of the word philanthropy means ‘humanity loving,’ like Prometheus was in Aeschylus Prometheus Bound (line 11, 460 BC). These days ‘philanthropy’ means ‘focusing on the quality of life’ and that is something I have been quite involved in lately. Having MS and all its negative connotations has turned into advocacy and it is has become my surest way to happiness.

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
Nelson Mandela

Absolutely. Criticism followed people like Mandela, Mother Teresa and Gandhi because they too are not 100% perfect. Perfect means that they cannot see the change that needed/needs to happen in the world. Mother Teresa for example, was criticised for not distributing pain medication to patients who were tormented badly. In Mother Teresa’s own philosophy, the reason for doing so was ‘the most beautiful gift for a person is that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ‘.” That sounds diabolical these days and it is hard to marry this philosophy with what we define as proper human rights. Nevertheless, as a young teenager, I admired Mother Teresa before I was able to grasp her criticism.

One of my other greatest inspirations, Nelson Mandela, is in my view a seeker of truth, of integration, socialism and quite concerned with freedom of speech, in body and soul. I don’t believe there is a bigger or greater philanthropist alive. At nearly 95 years old and now on life support in hospital, Mandela’s ideology is still very much alive. I hope his legacy and fight for freedom will continue to live after he passes away. I already dread hearing the news of his passing, for the world will have lost a man of valour. Although not 100% pure either, Nelson Mandela was a force to be reckoned with.

Looking up to these people, seeing the changes they were able to achieve, it all makes sense now. Gandhi and Mandela are just a few of those I see as true, as real. I admire them greatly because they gave the word ‘philanthropy’ an even bigger meaning: do well, no matter what. If you can’t feed a hundred, then feed just one.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

The response to my own efforts in advocating truly makes me feel humble. To some extent it makes me feel validated, but validation is not what I seek by campaigning. Praise is of fleeting nature; seeing things established because of advocating is of much greater meaning and importance. Where words can make you feel worthy, actions truly make you feel fulfilled.

Nelson Mandela: seeker of truth and freedom

Nelson Mandela: seeker of truth and freedom

© WVE and Ireland, MS and Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, MS and Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


    • Billie says:

      Thank you Joanne! Every day I am dreading hearing the news and I truly hope Mandela will continue battling for a while longer. But like a BBC News article said last week, is it time for South Africa to let go of Mandela. Perhaps it is time, but I hope his legacy will live on for so much longer. And thank you for your kind words, I truly appreciate it!


  1. Pingback: Rest in peace Madiba | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

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