Who have you helped out on this International Nelson Mandela Day?

In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly approved a new “holiday.” No, this day isn’t one that you get off work to go hang out with friends and family – nor will you get an extra bonus this time of the year. Instead, this day, July 18th, is marked as International Nelson Mandela Day.

Nelson Mandela, who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1993, was raised during the apartheid era in South Africa. This meant a high level of ethnic and racial discrimination as the white minority determined the majority of the country’s political and cultural policies. Mandela worked hard against the prejudiced system to create a more just and equal system. His work and determination caused many effects – including his imprisonment from 1962 until 1990.

In 1991, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. His time as president included a focus not on revenge but on reconciliation. He helped create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995, which has become a standard research item for those interested in cultural politics and multiculturalism.

The accomplishments and life mentioned above are merely a few words about a very mighty man. In his own words, he even impresses a large hope for the future in a short amount of space and time.

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”

– Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela may no longer hold the seat of political power in South Africa, but he still plays a large role in inspiring peace and cooperation – not only in his country but all around the world.

To read about some of the global events going on to celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day, check out this website: http://www.mandeladay.com/ or http://www.un.org/en/events/mandeladay/index.shtml

A good biography of Nelson Mandela online is this website: http://www.nelsonmandelaonline.net/

With the focus of this day meant to encourage peace, understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation – try to spend some of the today helping someone else. Big or small – acts of compassion always add up to a better day and a better life. Perhaps you will read about Nelson Mandela’s achievements today and think “wow, what a strong person.” The larger lesson to take away from this “holiday” though, is not just how strong of a person Nelson Mandela was – but also how strong of a person you can be to help make the world a better place.