Remembering Nelson Mandela

I am not a student of politics. It’s almost shameful how little I know of them. But I know that an amazing man died this month, and in my own way, I would like to pay my respects to him.

Nelson Mandela completed many brave and heroic acts for his country, and he is an inspiration to many. He achieved numerous great things in his lifetime, and I could never hope to sum that up in 600 words or less.

Politics aside, he was inspirational simply for being an exceptional man. These are three of my favorite quotes from Mandela, which I think we, as college students, can use to set an example in our everyday lives.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

After fifteen years of education, most of my classmates and I are getting a little restless to get out into the real world, and slacking off can seem like an easy way out.

But Mandela reminds us that it is important to learn, never stop learning, because being educated is one of the most important tools our generation can have.

With the technology we have literally at the tips of our fingers, it has never been more important to know what’s happening not only around us, but all over the world. We have no more excuses, and Mandela would be disappointed if we didn’t use these tools to our advantage.

Just knowing, however, isn’t enough. We must use this knowledge to advocate change in the things we believe in.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

On a slightly different note, this quote of Mandela’s is motivating because it is very easy to become agitated with others and blame them instead of doing something proactive to change the situation.

When Mandela was sent to prison in 1964, many expected him to be angry and harbor a hatred for the white men who had imprisoned him. But he did no such thing.

Instead, he worked with them, and while in prison introduced several of his white guards as “guards of honor”, according to an article on

Doing this, Mandela set a perfect example of this quote, showing us all that there is more we can do than sit around and be bitter towards the people who put us in our situations.

Don’t be angry with your professors for your bad grades, or a teammate for a loss. Instead, reassess the situation to figure out what you can do to improve your studying habits, your grades or be a better team player.

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”

In other words, volunteer. Give back to the communities that have given so much to you. UW-Eau Claire offers so many opportunities to volunteer, and making service learning a graduation requirement was a good move on their part.

But more than that, focus on those around you rather than yourself in simple, everyday situations. Little random acts of kindness can go a long way, and you may never realize how much you impacted someone’s day.

One of the most influential people in the world, the loss of Nelson Mandela has impacted all of our lives in some way. But his work will carry on long after he has gone, and it is important that we remember the things he has said and done to start a movement around the world.