I was hanging out at Reagan National Airport in D.C., working on a blog post about what I’d learned at the ASAE’s annual Technology Conference, when I heard that Nelson Mandela had died.

In that instant, all of the work that I had convinced myself was so incredibly important just didn’t seem to be worth a damn.

Think what you do is important? That you make a difference?

Think of Nelson Mandela, and why he suffered, and all that he accomplished, and of the enormity of the man.

Then think again.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Mandela said that. He also said this:

“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.”

May we all live our lives in those ways.

The most perfect of the many perfect tributes that poured in after his death was perhaps the simplest. It came from Twitter, courtesy of Alex Cortright. It read simply:

Long live Nelson Mandela.

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