Nelson Mandela was captured and put on trial for treason in South Africa in 1964. His lawyers advised him against making a public statement in court because they feared his words would be used against him by his enemies and could even trigger a death sentence. But he overruled his attorneys because he believed the opportunity to affirm his goals and intentions to the people of South Africa was worth risking his life.
As always, he was very calm as he spoke, even though he knew his life was hanging in the balance. He concluded his statement by saying, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”*
Do you have any convictions that you’re willing to die for?
Please think carefully before you answer!
The other day a friend of mine bit into a chocolate dessert at a local restaurant and said, “Oh wow, that’s to die for!” I know his comment was sheer hyperbole (I’ve said the same thing), but it suddenly struck me that we so flippantly talk about “dying” to do this or “giving anything” to do that, when most of us would probably turn tail and run if we were ever faced with the prospect of making the ultimate sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there are a lot of things you should be willing to die for. Many things that people think are so important really aren’t. Nevertheless, it seems to me that until a person has something he is willing to die for, he really doesn’t have much to live for.
For further reflection read: Hebrews 11:33-36, Mark 14:27-31, John 11:7-16
*William Ury, Positive No (New York: Bantam, 2007), 103