This evening, while watching the modern production of The Sound of Music, my wife commented to me that the all-white cast production of the threat of Nazi Germany overrunning an Austrian family does not have the cultural impact in the Age of Terrorism [and the Age of LGBTQIA Rights] that the original production had during the Cold War. We now expect to see an Austrian captain with a suitor (or mistress) and a governess both to be of color. The death of Nelson Mandela is a reminder of how far we have come with race in our age, and of how far we have to go.
I am hoping to hear more from Bishop Desmond Tutu on Mandela’s death than these simple comments: “He transcended race and class in his personal actions, through his warmth and through his willingness to listen and to empathize with others. He taught us that to respect those with whom we are politically or socially or culturally at odds is not a sign of weakness, but a mark of self-respect.” (Reported by USA Today.) While it would be politically incorrect to inquire if it is appropriate to ask if Mandela, who sacrificed his freedom to gain the freedom of others, gained the whole world at the expense of his soul, at the least I expected Tutu to make a reference to the afterlife. Yet we also know that Tutu’s support of LGBTQIA rights recently raised orthodox eyebrows towards the status of his own salvation.
My condolences go to Nelson Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa. We have lost a great world leader.