A Fallen Angel

Posted on December 13, 2013
From Zen Pencils Facebook Page
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It took a while for me to formulate my thoughts on Nelson Mandela. I was a sophomore in high school when he was released from prison, and I recall hearing about it all over the news, but, unfortunately, I was too absorbed in my teenage self to appreciate such a monumental moment.

Living in Queens and going to school in Brooklyn, I recall hearing good and bad things about Mandela. There were kids in my high school that did reports on him, people in the markets talking about how his visit to New York City won't fix any of the city's problems, and people on the train talking about how he was such an inspiration.

At fourteen years old, I didn't have an opinion on him. I didn't know who he was.

Politics and religion were forbidden topics in my household, and us kids just listened to the adult conversations. We never interrupted or asked questions. It wasn't until I went to college and met people from other parts of the world that I started to pay attention to world politics and current events outside of the U.S. This is also the time I started questioning religion and began a grow a tolerance for people who thought differently than I was taught. I guess that's what college is for, to open your eyes to the world.

This is when I really learned about Nelson Mandela and not just listened to the opinions of commentators on news shows. The internet was still in its infancy, but the NYU library was pretty well stocked and The Village had tons of bookstores and street vendors with a book on any topic you needed. Mandela was everywhere.

The years passed, life moved on, and then POOF!, an angel fell from the sky.

I began to think about the message he left behind, how I want my children to be aware of social issues around the world, and if I've lived my life in example of my beliefs the way he did. When I was explaining to my daughter who Nelson Mandela was, I went to Wikipedia (as millions of people did) and gave her a detailed overview of his past with cold hard facts.

But it wasn't enough. I finished the conversation explaining why his temperament, his tolerance, his hope was so important, but I felt I didn't do him justice.

And then, I come across a simple little comic strip that summarizes what Mandela was all about. The artist behind Zen Pencils, Gavin Aung Than, captures it succinctly, beautifully, and heart-wrenchingly in this one comic strip entitled, INVITICUS: A Comic Tribute to Nelson Mandela.

I got chills when I reached the last two panels. I can't wait to show this to my daughter today to see, if finally, I could get the sentiment across. It's a painful message, probably more so to a twelve-year-old who hasn't experienced too much of the world, but sometimes pain is the best teacher.


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