the loss of a moral champion

The world  has lost one of its true giants. Even though I knew it would soon happen, I was stunned yesterday when I heard of Nelson Mandela’s passing.

Like so many others of my generation, Nelson Mandela was a larger-than-life hero to me. He was in the ranks of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Desmond Tutu as real people who lived out their beliefs and never flinched when facing the ugly reality of global injustice. He was a flesh and blood champion of the poor and oppressed and demonstrated that one person can make a real difference in the world.

Living out his convictions, Nelson Mandela was a leader that helped change the world. He was a champion of peace, and never ceased to fight against injustice and hatred. Mandela recognized that hunger needed to be addressed as a moral issue. He was a constant inspiration to me and I have often used his wisdom and words in my writing. Was he perfect? Certainly not. But he was truly one of the greatest men of our time, and our world is a smaller, meaner place without him.

So today, with the rest of the world, I mourn the loss of a courageous leader and moral hero.  The following is an excerpt from a news release from the United Nations WFP.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today is mourning the loss of President Nelson Mandela. WFP, in a statement today said Mandela was “a champion against injustice and a true ally in the fight against hunger.”

Mandela delivered a special message to WFP’s staff in 2004, stating, “Hunger is an issue of social justice and not economics. Our economic approach to food and its distribution reflects our basic moral values. There are relatively poor countries where almost everyone is reasonably fed and richer ones where there is widespread malnutrition. The economic systems in these countries vary. Those who have succeeded have done so because they have made it a priority to end it. Hunger is a moral issue.”

May he rest in peace.