This past week I read an article by one of SA’s preeminent social commentators — Justice Malala — entitled “What does SA believe in?” The powerful point he was making is that on paper (the constitution) we declare our belief and trust in the most compelling values of compassion and justice yet we have failed to internalise these values. This failure is heard in the divisive public dialogues that fill the newspapers and it is seen in the moral ambivalence of our foreign policy, as well as the blatant lack of accountability within public office. He held up our relationship with Swaziland as a sad example of our silence concerning one of the King’s wives under house arrest.
All this is very disturbing as our hypocrisy is exposed. It reminds us that a new constitution does not make a new country. The real problem does not lie outside us but within us. We have new laws but we need new hearts and minds to incline ourselves towards these laws.
What Malala is saying about our nation could easily be said about us as Church. We have the most radically liberating words and testimony of Jesus — that some of us may even be able to quote off by heart, but whether these same words are at home in our hearts is another story.
For example, what if the words of Jesus “What you do to the least of these you do to me” actually took over our heart — how would our living change — knowing that each time we encounter the poor and vulnerable it was a sacred privilege to be in the presence of the Holy One?
We are called not only to read the Word but to live it. This is not easy but it is what we are designed by God to do. We start living the word by naming those words which we are not living.
Towards a deeper integrity, Alan