The idea behind Mandela Day is a great one, it encourages us to look beyond our little world and think of others. It is an opportunity to give or take action on behalf of those who are less fortunate. It unites us and gives rise to incredible acts of generosity and creativity.
It is definitely the first step in the battle against one of our biggest enemies, which is the severe lack of understanding and compassion in our nation. It is a lack that comes from never stepping outside our comfort zones and looking at life through somebody else’s eyes.
However there is a sense that Mandela Day is being used to build brand image, or to show others how ‘good’ we are. It’s as if people are trying to package goodwill, decorate it and sell it on 18 july.
I suppose there will always be those who look for ways to profit in any given circumstance and of course that should not deter us from contributing. However, it should prompt us to search our own motives and think about why we do what we do.
What is notable about Mandela and others like him is that they strived to live by a set of values whether or not they were being recognized for it. They sought to live right and to help others even when there was no-one to pat them on the back for their efforts.
It is good to do good when the occasion calls for it, or even when people are watching, but it is even better to do good when there is no reason for it at all or when no-one is there to see.
I hope someday that we can be more than a nation of Mandela Day ‘do- gooders’ but that we will be a people who will not have to wait for that one day in July to serve our society and make a difference.