“What will we say when our grandchildren ask us where we were?” Gary Haugen
The recent outbreak of Xenophobia that has gripped the attention of our nation, while tragic, should not come as a surprise to us.
“A Riot is the cry of the desperate” Martin Luther King
Xenophobia is a symptom of a far deeper brokenness that affects our country. We cannot hope for peace without working for justice. They are two sides of the same coin. The disparity between the minority and the masses in South Africa is an injustice that has yet to be effectively addressed. Many of us live under the false assumption that our current system is sustainable. It is not. We cannot continue to gather as small sectors of our society around banquet tables that the vast majority of our nation are not invited to. Current political and social constructs may have silenced the voice of the desperate for now, but they will not stay silent forever. If we continue to build our castles on the backs of Mothers and Fathers who can “serve in our kitchens but not sit in our livings rooms” the burden will become unbearable and they will shake it off.
I am guilty of this and I am determined to change. Can I invite you to do the same?
The response of our people to offer relief and support to those who have been affected by the xenophobic violence has been phenomenal. It is a testament to the people we are, to the nation we are. But it is in the aftermath of the crisis that the real work begins. We must allow these tragic circumstances to shake us out of apathy. We must imagine a new society, write a new narrative, build a new world where the table has room for all.
If we do this it will cost us. It will cost us time, comfort and convenience. It will cost us our illusions of safety as we step into abandoned places to bridge social divides. It will cost us our pride as we listen and learn asking for forgiveness from those whom our indulgence has affected.
If we do not do this the cost will be far greater.
I pray that each of us would find the courage to change so that the tragedy of the past few weeks never happens again.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9