Marching in solidarity with Marikana
Informal Settlement, Philippi East
where at least 23 people have been killed in one week.
Grace to you
There are so many problems in the world today and not least in this land where we live. It is easy to be overwhelmed with despair and tempting to withdraw into whatever pockets of security and comfort we can create for ourselves. It is also tempting to find someone to blame for the problems. Stringing up a scapegoat that we can pin our fear and anger on has provided a certain satisfaction for societies throughout the ages, but it fails to deliver the promised salvation.
Rather than addressing the problems, this despair, withdrawal and blame adds to the problems.
What is really very helpful however, is discovering that we ourselves are part of the problem. The realisation that the problems of the world live in us and we live in them is extremely good news. It is not comfortable news, but it is good news! Precisely because it is not comfortable news, we have a high tendency to avoid and deny it. In fact we have sophisticated defense mechanisms that sound an alarm the moment we get too close to finding it out. For fear of being robbed of our comfort (which is actually a false sense of comfort) we are robbed of the really good stuff – the good news that as part of the problem we can make a huge difference in addressing the problem.
Like the other day I texted someone to say that I would be late for the meeting because I was stuck in traffic. They replied: “You are the traffic”. My gut reaction was: “No I am not!!” But on reflection I realised of course I was, but the illusion of innocence is very sweet to swallow.
Realising we are part of the problem is good news because it means that the potential for change is really at our own fingertips. Changing ourselves is one way to engage the problem. What we do and what we refuse to do actually makes a difference. This is very empowering to realise and very liberating to explore.
You see, when we blame others for the problems, we give our power away because if “they” are the cause of the problem then they alone hold the keys to unlock the problem but the moment we discover our role in preserving, protecting and promoting the problem we are placed in a very powerful position to address the problem and work for the necessary change. Jesus said it much more succinctly when he said: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.” [Matt 7:5].
For example, the church would be far more faithful if we didn’t just speak out against rape while ignoring how our own teachings have been used for centuries to promote patriarchy and male dominance. To be abhorred by rape and speak against gender based violence without acknowledging how we ourselves are part of the problem, perpetuates the problem. It also ignores the area of the problem that we are closest to and most able to address raising the question: If not us, then who?
Blessed are those who know they are part of the problems of this world, for they have the power to do something about them.