That’s how Nelson Mandela said he wished to be remembered. It’s common to talk about following your passion, and using the word ‘passion’ conjures not only positive intent but also a happy, even easy life in its pursuit. Though the people we remember, those we would describe as remarkable, who impact our lives whether on the world stage as the great leader of a country, or just the lives of one or two, they don’t seem to follow the easy life.
The Free Dictionary suggests synonyms for passion including fervour, fire, zeal and ardour – these get closer to a better definition for me. If it is to guide our contribution to the world, then surely that is something about which you would have fervour, fire, zeal and ardour.
The great man used the word duty. In our world of autonomy, where we may feel we have a right to happiness, duty is not a word we often use. Following our passion suggests that we make the world fit our needs, the needs of self, which we sometimes shorten to ‘selfish.’ Duty suggests the opposite – serving, doing what is right irrespective of the personal consequences.
But then, passion is used to describe the final path to crucifixion took by Jesus Christ, on his path to save. Nelson Mandela, as prisoner 46664, somehow found it in himself to take the road of peace – he chose to love his aggressors rather than to fight them.
Perhaps passion is the right word, and it’s simply about direction; a passion for others, for compassionate justice, for peace.
The world may have lost a great man last night, but we are blessed and forever changed by his passion to do what was right, and we live with a better world because of a man who did his duty on earth.