Friday, December 6, 2013

celebrating the miracle of greatness

Today my meditation group came over for our annual Christmas potluck lunch. We ate, did our meditation, then, with dessert, we watched the DVD of a television documentary about the concept of eternity. It features Wayson, one of our group, talking about his near-death experience, and is a fascinating, thought-provoking film that will appear on TV in the spring.

At one point, a scientist says that it's such an incredible miracle that each of us is here at all - your mother had scores of eggs, she says, and your father released millions of sperm with each ejaculation, so think of the chances of that particular egg and that one particular sperm creating YOU. That's without even thinking of how our parents met, how their parents met etc. etc. So, she says, why don't we just focus on enjoying every moment of our miraculous lives, instead of thinking about what might happen after death?

The film was especially relevant today, as the entire world celebrates the miraculous life, and mourns the death, of one of its greatest citizens. If the chances of insignificant us being born are impossibly low, what are the chances of a Nelson Mandela? A black child born in a viciously repressive society, who becomes a leader of vision, generosity, dignity, wisdom, humour. And yet a tough man who could survive what he did, end up where he did, make tough choices along the way. In my own country with its debased political scoundrels, it's a joy to see Mandela's serene and beautiful face, hear the tributes pouring in, celebrate what he achieved.

Our press has been spectacular in its coverage. Last night, already, Steve Paikin's show on TVO had a full panel, including my brilliant friend and non-relative Gerry Caplan. This morning, the newspapers were full of articles, and Jian dedicated his entire show to Mandela. The great man was given his due in this country. And who knew, as many have pointed out, that former Conservative prime-minister Brian Mulroney was one of the heroes of Mandela's story?

My daughter, on Facebook: What an incredible life. Doesn't stop my tears. I still can't formulate properly what this man's legacy and lessons mean to me, but maybe, I don't need to. Instead I'll continue to do my best to live these words in his honor.

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