Denis Goldberg, a colleague of Mandela's, who spent 22 years in prison, came quite close to saying on BBC Radio 4 just now, that he hoped the doctors were not over-doing their efforts to keep him alive. He also said that the media should leave the family alone, and that there is a danger that people want to associate themselves with him for one last time for their own egotistical reasons.
The final point I want to draw from such a wise source was his view that there is danger in regarding Mandela as a solo Messiah. His great gift was to draw people together and inspire them in a mass movement; in this he was a true leader and an example. The time has come, said Goldberg, to concentrate on building a better South Africa - life goes on, in the nation he and his colleagues did so much to bring into being.
Probably only someone who was beside Mandela at the heart of the struggle could say such things. But it's clear enough, isn't it? If we can't accept Mandela's mortality, we are also failing to accept our own, and vice versa. At least broadcasters and journos are beginning to say things like "as Mandela's life draws to its close..." and that's helpful.
He is 94. Ameliorate his suffering, and if the time has come to let him go, let him go. As with any person, whether icon or nonentity, as with anyone, when the time comes