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World should follow path of dignity paved by Mandela

Since his passing on Thursday night at age 95, people from around the world have called Nelson Mandela “one of humanity's true heroes;” a tireless leader whose message of reconciliation and forgiveness will remain a constant “source of inspiration.”

The anti-apartheid icon will for sure remain a source of inspiration for millions who seek justice against tremendous odds in Africa and beyond as he embodies the hopes, dreams and aspirations to change the course of things to make the world a better place.

“The force of his will, his immense wisdom and his profound dignity in the face of unspeakable inhumanity moved an entire nation toward justice and changed our world,” Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey rightly pointed out. Despite his passing, we are confident that his legacy will continue to live more than ever to inspire youth in South Africa and around the world, including Taiwan.

His passing is indeed an opportune time to reflect upon how we treat others. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and how much was sacrificed for human dignity and equality in the world. At the time of apartheid, we should remember that Nelson Mandela only asked one key question which earned him 27 years in prison: Is it fair that because you're white, you would have more rights than me? Or if you prefer, is it fair that because I'm black, I have fewer rights than you have?

These questions are still relevant today, though they don't simply encompass the color of one's skin anymore. Some people today are discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation or religion. In 21st-century Taiwan, we believe that it is important for everyone to realize that such biases still exist and must be overcome. That's why we need to change our thinking regarding same sex-marriage or gender equality, and stop being hypocrites regarding any forms of discrimination.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” South African President Jacob Zuma said to the media. “What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves,” he added. This statement further highlights the importance of teaching the younger generation about the life of Nelson Mandela in a world where we consider ourselves so highly advanced and yet wars are still waged everywhere and good people suffer greatly. By following his lead, Mandela can serve as a moral compass in the future to help make the world a better place.

As we near Christmas, we shouldn't just rush around for our annual shopping spree while wearing blinders to prevent us from seeing the less fortunate around us. Gift giving is a wonderful expression of love for your family and friends, but we should nourish their spirit more than providing sustenance to their need for material things. If there is anything that Nelson Mandela taught us, it is that we are not alone in this world. Despite being imprisoned for 27 years, he never lost hope for an end to apartheid. He never lost hope in the innate goodness of others to do what is right. We must not let him down and always remember to help each other whenever we are able.

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