14 April 2015

Rallying against the culture of violence and hatred in South Africa - Durban especially has an opportunity right now

South Africa, as far as I can remember (probably actually for my whole life), has experienced some serious incidents of extreme violence. People doing blatantly inhuman things against one another in the name of one or other extremist ideology. Judging by the current debate going on around a host of inanimate (yet somehow racist) statues and memorials, it is clear that South Africa has a lot of hurt and pain resurfacing that hasn't really been dealt with and we haven't truly recovered from the dark past. There is truly a lot of work still to be done.

What I sometimes forget is just how blessed I actually am to be largely apart from this dark side of South Africa. I read about it in the news, I witness some of this lingering anger through interactions with people now and then but largely I am so far removed from it that I don't often think about it. I can't really say that I am as aware about the lingering pain people are carrying about the wicked past as I am about social injustice which is something I see almost every day. That's something I am more intrinsically aware of and it stirs a host of emotions (anger, frustration, sadness, despair) in me, which I consider to be a blessing because it means I have the energy to want to effect change. Empathy is being aware of other people's feelings but compassion is what spurs us on towards action. 

I'm not really sure how much people know about the xenophobic attacks going on in KZN at the moment but it's really quite dire. Reports of disappearances, people's entire businesses being looted and their livelihoods being destroyed, and even young 
children being attacked. The actual state of affairs is appalling.

These foreigners are fleeing for their lives from South Africans who are hellbent on venting their hatred and anger. The ironic thing is, I don't think most of these aggressors realise that it's these same foreign countries that offered refuge for many of our political exiles during Apartheid. There's simply so much anger and resentment lingering in the hearts of so many of us that any opportunity to vent it is taken up and all rational conscience is lost (it reminds me a bit of James DeMonaco's The Purge, where one night of the year all laws are revoked and a nation-wide free-for-all lawless and ultraviolent catharsis commences). 

For now, the refugees are currently being holed up in police stations to avoid being attacked, kidnapped, or murdered. I don't think there's actually much that I can do right now because I have a baby about to arrive but on a more general issue, what are we as Christians (for my friends and fellow church members, we are effectively on the front-line) doing about this?

I don't know if anyone feels moved by this as much as I do but I reckon there must be something we can do - pray, provide food, blankets, urge community buildings to offer refuge, or just even raise our voice against this injustice. I don't really know. Surely there must be something (more) we can do to bring the love of Jesus to these people. The foreigners even tried to march in Durban to protest the violence and plead for protection and were prevented from doing so (to protect them). They fled their homelands to avoid persecution and settled here for a shot at giving their families a future and it's as if they have leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire. Surely we have enough resources to at least provide them with some comfort during this difficult time?

The first five minutes from the link below gives a bigger context for the extent of the damage right now...

Maybe I'm on my own about this, who knows? I feel quite powerless to take action at the moment but I am praying for them which is a powerful thing. Hopefully others feel the same way and we can spring into action...

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