A path out of poverty

An OLIVE branch that really does make peace.
Goedgedacht Olives and Olive Oil that create “A Path Out of Poverty” for the rural poor. Look for them at Pick ‘n Pay.

I was away last weekend facilitating Manna and Mercy. Manna and Mercy is a short picture book version of the bible — simple yet profound — just as Jesus taught. In fact I reckon it is Jesus’ favourite version of the Bible.

I asked the author Dan Erlander why he called it Manna and Mercy and not simply ‘The Bible’ and this is what he said: “In biblical times rabbis would summarise their teaching for their disciples in a prayer. John had apparently done this for his disciples and now Jesus’ did the same, beginning with ‘Our Father…’ Now listen to what is at the very centre of what we call the Lord’s Prayer but what is in fact Jesus’ very own summary of his teaching: ‘Give us our daily bread (Manna) and forgive us our debts’ (Mercy). So Manna and Mercy is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching.”

Reading the Gospels confirms that manna (which is really a symbol for justice) and mercy for all is what Jesus lived for and it is also what got him killed.

It was therefore special to be hosted at Goedgedacht Farm near Malmesbury not only because the beauty runneth over like each of the dams on the property, but because it embodies in deed what Manna and Mercy espouses in word.

The whole farm exists to give life in all its fullness to rural families — especially children. This is not an add-on like some Corporate Social Investment programme. Their business is to use their business to liberate rural people from the continuous cycles of poverty and joblessness that have entrapped farm worker families for many generations. Education and health weave through everything they do. Their Path out of Poverty (POP) programme touches the lives of 1268 individuals from 30 farms and in two rural villages of Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel. POP is a programme for children and youth run by the young people themselves.

They understand that no single project will get a child out of poverty. As they tenaciously declare: “The only thing that has a chance of working is a long-term intervention, a programme that should involve a child for up to 20 years … and then start again with the next generation.” Check out: www.goedgedacht.org

Inspired, Alan


Corporal Punishment

This week I was called by a reporter from Die Burger to give my views on corporal punishment. I did not have too much time to get them to her — but here are my reasons why I do not support any form of corporal punishment:

To use a mere two verses of Scripture (Proverbs 13:24 and 23:13) as a validation for corporal punishment is a terribly narrow basis for parenting and educating children. And besides the ‘rod’ that scripture refers to in Proverbs 13:24 may well be referring to the rod-like-pointer that the rabbi used while reading the Torah. In other words to spare the rod would mean to neglect teaching children the Torah and not to give a child a hiding.

The Bible is clear that discipline is necessary, but discipline is not the same thing as punishment. Therefore to say that ‘smacking is good’ because children need discipline is to confuse the issue. Discipline when applied well relies on a host of other emotions that reveal not only why the behaviour was undesirable but also how and why the behaviour can be changed.

Corporal punishment is based on fear and relies on superior power. Discipline relies on respect and relies on the strength of a loving relationship that exists between a parent and a child. Punishment may be effective in the short term but only lasts as long as the fear. Fear casts out love.

Corporal punishment ultimately teaches the child that if you have a problem with another human being you can solve it by giving them a hiding. Discipline invites imaginative ways at conflict resolution which are vital social skills for all human beings to learn.

Corporal punishment is often more about the state of the impatient, over-tired parent than about the deed and need of the child. Healthy discipline takes far more time and effort and imagination for sure – but in the end the long way round is the quickest.

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