For Nelson Mandela, greatness was not the province of a few. For him, every man and woman who walked the earth had the potential to be great. "We ask ourselves," he said, "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
He believed that the true mark of greatness is a person's ability to tear down barriers and heal divisions. As Michael den Tandt writes in this morning's Ottawa Citizen: "His appeal crosses all party lines, from left to right; all political persuasions, from libertarian to communist; all races; all creeds."
Greatness does not imply perfection. Mandela freely acknowledged his shortcomings. He knew only too well that to err is human. But he understood in the deepest sense that to forgive is divine. His life reminds of the potential divinity -- and greatness -- that is within all of us.