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Nelson Mandela International Day

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Take Action and Inspire Change

Take Action! Inspire Change is the theme this year of the 2nd annual Nelson Mandela International Day. This Day is to honour Mr. Mandela and celebrate his achievements towards a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa, his dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. In November 2009 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed July 18th as “Nelson Mandela International Day” to be celebrated each year. It is the first time that the UN has dedicated an International Day to an individual.

It is only 67 minutes out of your whole life

Now here is what we all are being asked to do to celebrate: perform 67 minutes of public service – one minute for every year of the South African leader’s own service to humanity.
They are not asking a lot, or are they? I find it interesting that we need to be asked to perform public service as if it is not something that we would think about it on our own. I am thinking I better put it in my to-do list to make sure that I don’t forget, and that I allow for the whole 67 minutes. Is this not something that I should be doing each day? That is too much time I hear some of you say? Is it?
Forget about how much time it is, what exactly does it mean, perform public service. When I read this I sat there dumbfounded. What could I do this Monday for 67 minutes to help others? I thought about my day and all that I had already planned and thought: “It is just symbolic, I don’t really have to do 67 minutes of service. I do a lot all the time.” Do I? Do I do enough?

What is enough?

I think of Mr. Mandela and wonder if he ever thought: “I have done enough.” He is human after all. If he thought that way I am wondering if he would have accomplished all he did in the fight for freedom, justice and democracy.
After I decided I was going to fit in those 67 minutes I couldn’t figure out what I would do. I sat there staring at the screen thinking, I could not come up with one thing to do,
“What can I do to perform service? I don’t have a project going on, there is no event coming up that I am involved with right now?”
Here I am, someone that truly does believe that if each of us does our part we can affect change in our world, and to me ‘our world’ is what is around us, the same way I am sure Mr. Mandela was thinking of ‘his world’ as he fought for human rights.

67 Ways to Change Our World

Thankfully these days we don’t need to look very far for answers to anything and the answer to how I could spend those 67 minutes found me in a blog post. I don’t think I could come up with a better list than these 67 suggestions from Natalie Govender in her blog on HUDDLEMIND: 67 Ways To Change Our World (posted on July 15th, 2011).

Here is what I am going to do

I am going to make Monday not about ME. I am going to do all those things that I say I am going to do for others that day, those small things, those things that I don’t think matter, that matter to those I do them for. Then I am going to move forward on two projects that I have started – one on meditation and one for the homeless.

What are you going to do to celebrate?

Is it going to be doing the dishes or taking out the garbage?
Is it calling that friend who is going through a rough time and you just don’t want to hear about it?
Is it finally calling that charity to offer to volunteer.
Is it making a donation?
Is it making a conscious decision to speak up for something you believe in?
Is it simply remembering: that giving is doing service and we are able to do that in each of our daily actions no matter how big or small those actions may be.
 Now, what I would love to hear is what YOU are going to do on Monday, July 18th to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day. I have made the commitment, now it is your turn. There is a comment box down below. Put it in writing. Make it real. And remind yourself as I am reminding myself; we could make this commitment every single day.

For more information on Nelson Mandela International Day, click here
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