This article is dedicated to all of the activist, big and small, who stay the course to see their endeavors through. As we mourn the loss of, and celebrate the life of President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, it reminded me of those activists. Activist in every area of Human Rights and Civil Rights. Whether it be Malala Yousafzai fighting for children's right to an education in Pakistan, or James Brady fighting for gun control and a reduction in the number of gun related deaths in this country. Be it Sean Penn in Haiti helping to rebuild that country after it's devastating earthquake, or George Clooney battling to bring attention to the Genocide in Darfur. Perhaps it is Angelina Jolie bringing attention to the largely forgotten about Syrian refugees in camps throughout the front line states in the region. I applaud them all.
Speaking of Mandela, there is Peter Gabriel and Bono who have fought tirelessly for decades to shine a light on the very dark corners of this earth where it seems all hope is lost. Helping to bring down a terrible racist regime and raise awareness about what had gone on during the days of apartheid. Speaking of Gabriel, there was Stephen Biko who lost his life to that very racist political system way back in September of 77' and sparked the flame that would ultimately bring that system to it's knees. Gabriel's words would grow into a rallying call for all of the oppressed people around the globe, not just South Africa. His words, " you can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher," were a stern warning to all of the dictators of the world.
These are just a few of the "Big" activist. There is an army of smaller, no name activist who wage war against injustice with there minds, pens, music, films around this world. There are those who die for their causes who we have never heard of, and seldom remember once we have. While we're at it, lets not forget the many organizations such Human Rights Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International, UNICEF and Playing For Change who all wage a war of peace against some of the most brutal people and systems in countries far and wide. Organizations who fight for everything from equality, whether that equality is based on racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation to those that struggle to bring clean water, medicine and food to those in need.
I applaud the press, which includes the citizen journalist, for them standing steady in the face of physical harm and perhaps even death to tell the peoples story. To be our eyes and ears on the ground. Without them staying the course we would be blind and oblivious to the places and people needing our help. In this category Raina Abouzeid springs to mind. I give thanks for the brave but humble peacekeepers who put themselves between angry factions to nurture a peace as delicate as a newly planted sapling. Peacekeepers who travel far from their homes to foreign lands to protect, with their lives, people who they do not know.
Ask yourself where our country would be if Martin Luther King Jr. hadn't stayed the course. If he had not spoken those words,"Free At Last, Free At Last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last." And there is still so much more work to be done for his dream to be fully realized. Then there is Mahatma Ghandi who championed the concept of Civil Disobedience, inspiring countless millions to peacefully rise up and demand their freedom, inspiring the people of so many nations to shake off the shackles of "mental slavery" and free themselves from their oppressors. Bob Marley said it so perfectly when he sang, "Emancipate from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." Or when Bobby Kennedy spoke these words,
At the University of Natal in Durban, I was told the church to which most of the white population belongs teaches apartheid as a moral necessity. A questioner declared that few churches allow black Africans to pray with the white because the Bible says that is the way it should be, because God created Negroes to serve. 'But suppose God is black', I replied. 'What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?' There was no answer. Only silence.*
Freedom is so dear, so precious, we must all stay the course against those who look to take that away. We must defend it any and every way we can.