One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.~ Nelson Mandela 

Revolution is the evolution of humans into a higher humanity. ~ Grace Lee Boggs                                      

Those of you who know me or have been reading PGG for a while know that my passion and mission in life has always been to contribute to world peace, mostly through my work best expressed in my mantra that personal transformation is the key to social transformation.

So it should come as no surprise that I profoundly relate to and revere the lives of these two nonagenarians, the late 95 year old Nelson Mandela and the 98 year old activist and author Grace Lee Boggs, who literally embody this philosophy in every cell of their beings; who have demonstrated it both externally with their activism and sacrifice for racial equality and social justice, and internally by the wisdom they have gained and generously share from nearly a century of experience, observation, and most importantly, reflection.   

Both started out as ‘radicals’, and even Mandela up until 2008, were branded as terrorists with the requisite FBI/CIA files because they initially saw the only way to overthrow the entrenched power structure was by employing the more literal and sometimes violent tactics of revolution through organized movements and a spirit of rebellion. But through trial and error, incarceration and maturation, eventually evolved – which means they gave themselves permission to change their minds, learn and grow in light of new information, experimentation and once again, reflection – ultimately coming to the conclusion that in order to change the world they would have to change themselves.

They came to understand that indeed humanity is made up of humans and that humans were going to have to deal with other humans in order to get anything done. So we better be the best we can be as individuals and we better try to get along and get past our differences and disagreements, because the reality is that we must co-exist harmoniously – whether in a racially divided African country, a rundown bankrupt American city or in your very own household.

We are living in extraordinary times and it is no accident that you are who you are at this moment in history.

What does your humanity mean to you?  As our world continues to go through turbulent changes and upheavals, it will be up to us individually and collectively to do our part to ‘tear down’ where necessary and rebuild a more enlightened society that reflects our evolved humanity.  But we have to start with ourselves, and do what we can in our immediate environments to demonstrate our own personal evolution – which, by the way, does not happen overnight, with a magic pill, silver bullet or special app.

It is only through keen observation, deep reflection and inner and outer sweating effort and energy over a long period of time directed towards improving ourselves and serving others that true transformation can take place. Then, if we’re lucky, by the time we reach our 90’s can look back and see how our journey has positively and productively unfolded in both a personal and political way, and be proud of what we accomplished and the legacy we will leave behind.

Wondering how it will all go down if you take up the cause? Give me a buzz and I will incite a riot in your heart to make the most of what you got, so at the end of the day you know it’s gonna be alright!


10 Things Nelson Mandela Said That You Have to Know

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs 

My personal thoughts: Feeling the Legacy of Nelson Mandela

My journey: All Roads; Same Place

Audio interview:

 Voice x Voice: Kristina as one of the Inspiring Women and Peacebuilders Around the World  

Personal Transformation is the Key to Social Transformation: An Interview with Kristina Leonardi