News cycle got you down? Let these 4 quotes from Nelson Mandela inspire you to act.

Freedom fighter, human rights advocate, prisoner, and all-around remarkable human Nelson Mandela was South Africa's first black president and first post-apartheid leader.

Not only did Mandela fiercely advocate on behalf of South Africans of color, he gave up decades of his life to do it. His visionary actions against South Africa's racist policies led to a 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island.

Photo by Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images.


Mandela's actions — from protesting to collaborating with like-minded revolutionaries to his nearly 30-year prison sentence — have been well-documented. But the world didn't know the details of his time in prison — until now.

On July 18, The New York Times is publishing hundreds of unreleased letters from Mandela to coincide with what would have been his 100th birthday.

In "The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela," over 250 letters to his family, friends, and colleagues reveal some of Mandela's thoughts and emotions during a turbulent time in his life.

Here are five of the key takeaways from collection excerpts:

1. Peace and harmony are possible.

Mandela held onto his faith and spirituality as a source of inspiration to continue fighting for the world he believed in. He wrote of the parts of the Bible that resonated with him strongest:

"The importance of the passages ... lies in the fact that they tell us of a way of life which would have brought us peace and harmony many centuries ago, if mankind had fully accepted and faithfully practiced the teachings they contain.

They visualize a new world where there will be no wars, where famine, disease, and racial intolerance will be no more, precisely the world for which I am fighting … "

2. There is a time for civility and kindness, and there is a time to fight for change.

Prioritizing civility and kindness is important, but there are always times when one must stand up for what is right. Mandela offered some blatant, important truths, noting that while one person is powerful, a group of people committed to a just cause can move mountains:

"It's a good thing to help a friend whenever you can; but individual acts of hospitality are not the answer. Those who want to wipe out poverty from the face of the earth must use other weapons, weapons other than kindness.

This is not a problem that can be handled by individual acts of hospitality. The man who attempted to use his own possessions to help all the needy would be permanently ruined and in due course himself live on alms. Experience shows that this problem can be effectively tackled only by a disciplined body of persons, who are inspired by the same ideas and united in a common cause."

Photo by Trevor Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Humans are complex and resilient.

In a letter to his wife Winnie, Mandela discussed his attempts to find solace in solitary confinement and described the complexity of the human experience — including our capacity for resilience:

"Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others — qualities which are within easy reach of every soul — are the foundation of one's spiritual life.

Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying. … No ax is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise and win in the end."

Good people make mistakes, but the determination to do good prevails.

4. There is power in unwavering hope.

In another letter to Winnie, Mandela made an impassioned plea to use hope in the face of adversity. Having read the work of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Mandela expressed his unshakable belief in the power of positive thinking:

"The man who says: I will conquer this illness and live a happy life, is already halfway through to victory. … Remember that hope is a powerful weapon even when all else is lost.

You and I, however, have gained much over the years and are making advances in important respects. You are in my thoughts every moment of my life. Nothing will happen to you, darling. You will certainly recover and rise."

Photo by Walter Dhldhla/AFP/Getty Images.

Nelson Mandela's letters reveal a man who was nuanced, thoughtful, and determined to do good. In our changing, complex society, his words offer important insights on how to continue fighting for a better world.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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