So much good stuff happening all over the internet the last two weeks in terms of helping us understand some of the challenges we are facing.
i stumbled upon this in the Warehouse’s most recent newsletter and wanted to share it with you as some really practical steps for moving forwards together. These steps apparently emerged from a conversation between Linda Martindale, Caroline Powell and my wife, tbV [the beautiful Val]. We have heard a lot about Reconciliation [making relationships right] but not nearly enough about Restitution [making situations/contexts right] so this feels really helpful.
You don’t need to jump into all of them at once, but how about picking the one on the list that seems easiest for you to tackle at the moment and then move on to a more challenging one. Also, i encourage you to share this with your friends with a simple, “Want to give this a try with me?”
Here are simply Ten practical restitution ideas [and possibly a bonus one!]
# Invest in fees for students from disadvantaged backgrounds
Give into a bursary scheme at your old university or an historically black university, for students who could not otherwise afford tuition fees, or invest in a young person with whom you are in relationship. You could also start a scholarship fund for the child of the person who works with/for you. [Some friends i know have started to do this through the Common Change non-profit organisation that Val works for]
# Support an under-resourced school
Visit primary and/or high schools in areas that are under-resourced and think about how your family’s time, talents or financial donations can be used to serve them in activities they are running or wish to start. [This might be something like volunteering to coach a sport’s team or mentor the leaders of a society. Or being creative with your connections to find new and exciting ways to gather some of the practical resources needed]
# Do more than just fill up your petrol tank
Think about how much you can add to your petrol bill on filling up your tank. Petrol attendants earn a very low wage and one way of giving back is to double their day’s pay by adding on R50 – R100 to your bill when you fill up your tank. [Consider the impact this might have to someone’s day compared to the inconvenience it might be for you]
# Hang around a hospital and offer people lifts home
Offer patients lifts to and from hospital, especially late at night after public transport is no longer available.
# Share your car by offering lifts and changing insurance
Offer lifts in general to people you notice walking or waiting in the hot sun, carrying children or heavy bags, the elderly, the sick or the tired. In Cape Town, for example, there is little transport within suburbs so people have to walk long distances to their place of work, while many mostly empty cars pass by heading in the exact direction they are going. Also, you could add an ‘extra driver’ to your insurance package so you can lend your car out when the need arises.
# Give others the options of credit by signing surety
Many people are unable to buy a home, even when they can afford the payments, because they do not have appropriate surety or credit references. This is often linked to generational wealth. Share that privilege with others, if you have the finance to assist should there be a crisis in the future.
# Divest where necessary for the sake of integrity
Research where and how your financial institutions are investing and if necessary divest (get rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous).
Look back over the deed history of property you now own and consider if there has been a breach in rightful ownership along the way. i.e. do you own property in an area that was reclassified during Apartheid, resulting in the forceful removal of people, and thus enabling a transfer of property into your hands? You may need to go back several decades. How much do you own? Can you sub-divide? Pray about your response to this information.
# Pay a living just wage that is way more than the minimum
Pay your domestic staff or employees of any kind a living and just wage. This may mean you have to scale down on hours at a higher rate, which also means your staff will have more time at home with their children/families for more income. If you haven’t paid a fair rate, make restitution and pay back-wages, as encouraged in Romans 13:7.
Join with friends and start a Restitution Giving Group using technology like Common Change who help you give together, sharing resources and in relationship.
#Change your will to include people who are not part of your blood family
Have a meeting with your immediate family and explain to them that you will be sharing the inheritance that you plan to leave behind with a family that does not have access to inheritance money. You could decide together as a family who it is you would like to include in the will. Doing this will open the eyes of your whole family to the need for restitution and potentially inspire them to do the same.
Not sure where to start? Have a read of Leviticus 6:2-5 and based on the “plus one fifth” law, open a savings account and begin giving one fifth of your income into it, while you explore the theology of restitution and ways you can begin enacting it more fully.
Being a part of restitution is a privilege and gift and an invitation to those who have benefitted from an unjust system. It is not a personal attack, it is a communal invitation and points to the operations of ‘another kingdom’ where money and material things do not control or have a hold over the children of God.
If you would like to know more about white privilege and restitution, listen to this sermon preached at Christ Church Kenilworth earlier this year.
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One last thing i would like to add is the invitation to your friends to talk about these things. A lot happens on social media with people tending to lean to one or other pole and it can get fighty quickly. How about being intentional about inviting a number of your close friends around for a meal to talk about the things on this list? Print out a copy for each person and ask them which one they would find easiest and hardest to start doing. Be prepared for some awkward and uncomfortable and messy as we continue to walk together into these things…
Also what ideas do you have to add to this list? Anything you’ve already tried or been wanting to? Add them in the comments…