It is much easier to praise a great life of sacrifice and love than emulate one. The greatest disservice we can provide Nelson Mandela is memorializing him without becoming more like him. His greatness cannot be isolated to his great words, but his great actions. He didn’t simply speak of forgiveness, he extended it. He didn’t merely give speeches on loving your enemy, he loved his enemy. He didn’t isolate his engagement in social justice to writing, he lived justly.
NPR interviewed a friend of Mr. Mandela’s who referred to him as Christlike. To the extent he was, it was because he embodied truth and grace. In this light, the best tribute to Mandela seems to, “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.”