Tag Archive: a bug’s life


bugs

My friend Alexa recently [as in yesterday, that’s pretty recent don’t you think? me too] wrote this piece called ‘Are there more white people like you?’ where she starts with this:

‘I have been faced with the fact that as much as I am surrounded by amazing people, doing things to see communities shift and healed, that there is not enough contact between different (colour)people happening to make people realise that actually there are many(white)who are seeking this change. Who think that justice matters, who think that restitution matters.’

And gets to this question which was asked to her by two different people:

‘Are there more? Maybe there are more but we don’t see or hear them?’

And it spoke to a frustration that has been growing in me in terms of the conversations that i have tried to have on this blog hoping to be a catalyst for deeper conversations on race and reconciliation, on reparation and moving forwards in this, my beloved country… that every time there is a post or a story share or a challenge, it is the same people showing up, liking, sharing, getting excited, engaging and pushing back – Hi Sindile. Molo Nkosi. Hey Mike. Lexy! Dre, how goes it? Linda! Avuyile!

And that’s it. With occasional cameo roles from one or two others.

And with this blog i’ve realised two things:

[1] i start a LOT of paragraphs with the word ‘and’ – well today i do it seems.

[2] and [see!] when one person comments it usually means at least five people are reading, when three people share it usually means twelve people have been moved by it, when eight people like there is the likelihood that twenty people thought it was worthwhile and so on.

So maybe this is true. Maybe the voices and comments i see on these posts are representative of many more people who are quietly reading and looking on and silently cheering and nodding and having their own wrestlings and offline conversations.

Or the slightly more scarier option of maybe only 6 to 8 people are actually interested in engaging in these kinds of conversations in this particular way.

But i don’t believe that. i do believe that not as many people as i’d like to be interested are interested. But i also believe there are a lot more than i know. And my call to you today is to come out of the shadows. To put your hand up. To make yourselves known. It’s not even about reading or liking or commenting on or sharing my blog posts [and the posts of those who share their stories on my blog] although please keep doing that.

But just let us know that you’re out there. Please just let us know you care. Let us know that it’s not just the five to eight of us who are wondering around feeling completely rubbish at making any sort of significant difference with this. Or that it even matters.

Because it’s a bit of a lonely business advocating for change and daring to hope in a country where so many people are either so wrapped up in their homogenous bubbles of sameness or else completely negative and always complaining about the state of things in the country [often both] or just seemingly oblivious to the need for any change at all “cos didn’t that all happen in 1994 and now everything is just cool, right?”

A lot of my writing is directed towards christian types [because that’s a huge part of my tribe] and while this is in no way a christian issue [as in exclusively] i cannot in my mind perceive how anyone could view racial reconciliation and unity and togetherness as not an issue facing the church and quite possibly THE issue facing the church in South Africa right now [and Americaland, let’s be honest!] especially if you want to dive into Matthew 25 and redefine those considered ‘the least of these’ in the context of our country.

In the movie ‘A Bug’s Life’ a bunch of smaller bugs are being terrorised and bullied by a swarm of locusts until the very end of the movie where they realise they have the numbers. And the tables are turned.

i do so desperately want to believe we have the numbers in this fight against racial segregation and apartness, against poverty and crime, against the disparity between really rich and really poor and against the fear and hopelessness and hectic racism that still exists in so many people you will find lurking on comment boards in the safety of their homes.

i want to believe it. But i don’t feel it. i don’t see it. It feels like there are seven of us. Maybe a few more…

And so i want to ask if there is anyone else out there who cares about this stuff? You don’t have to feel like you know the answers [or even any of the answers] or have the strength to engage in radical ways even [sometimes the simplest ways can be the most radical] – just let us know you’re out there.

So i want to ask, if you’ve read this, and you are someone who sees the need for some work to be done between black and white and coloured and indian and refugee in this country, and that you want to be hopeful and part of the solution and hungry to see positive change in South Africa [even if you have no idea how and even if you are struggling to believe it’s even possible] to leave your name in the comment section of this blog and tell us you’re in.

i’m honestly anticipating no more than seven names, because that is sometimes all that it feels are engaging with this…

So please, i’m counting on you to prove me wrong.

free

bugsThe 1998 animated Pixar movie ‘The Bug’s Life’ saw a motley crew of reject bugs take on a swarm of locusts.

Through the elaborate creation of a designed and engineered fake bird contraption they almost succeeded using trickery, but at the last moment their elaborate scheme unravelled and for a moment it looked like the locusts were going to have the last say. Until one of the ants was able to help the rest of the ants realise that by sheer numbers alone they had the beating of the locusts.

That should have been the beating of apartheid in South Africa. When 4 million people are telling 41 million people what to do, you know it’s only a matter of time before the power shift changes. It was always going to be inevitable and was maybe just a question of when.

But now apartheid has at least officially been asked to pack its bags and leave. The hearts and minds and systems have followed and are following a little more slowly, especially in some places and groups where it was more strongly entrenched, but great progress has been made, and more is on the way.

For me, one of the hardest things to try and swallow, when it comes to the New South Africa has been the fact of widespread corruption in government, especially notable after Nelson Mandela moved on and relinquished power to firstly Thabo Mbeki and now Jacob Zuma. It seems like every second week we hear a new scandal about this minister who has spent this crazy amount of money on a new car or trips overseas or how this deal was made with this guy’s brother’s company or else how the government is about to spend millions on their latest celebration or breakfast.

All the while, the poor people, in particular, continue to struggle. Most of whom are still black although the race distinction seems to be moving more and more towards and economic class distinction where both the very rich and the very poor are starting to be people of all different shades and first languages.

Which brings us back to ‘A Bug’s Life’ – maybe it’s time for the ants to group together and rise again…

Micah Challenge South Africa is one group that is trying to shine a light on corruption, especially when it comes to affecting the poor and i think that is an important thing and so take some time to check them out and see how you can get involved. But one person or group shining a light is not going to be enough. We have to each one of us realise that when we put our voices together, when we add our little piece of light to the action, that we can achieve so much more. And that our collective weight is enough to bring about change. So how about it, South Africa? How close are we to joining together and saying with all the collective energy we can muster: “ENOUGH!”

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This post is part of a synchroblog to shine a light on corruption. Please join me, Micah Challenge South Africa, and others in the Exposed2013 Campaign. We are making a difference together. [notice the links]

Read what others are writing with me:

Arthur Stewart – http://differentchurch.wordpress.com

Wendy Lewin – fromtheouterlimb.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/fighting-corruption-passionate-but-absolutely-clueless

Duncan Scott – http://duncanscottza.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/exposed-2013

Sarah Dlamini – http://dlaminis10.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/why-should-i-care 

Micah Challenge South Africa http://exposedsa.wordpress.com/

Meat Romney?

so i wrote about the elections the other day and think some people may have been disappointed by me not actually talking all that sepcifically about the elections and voting in it, as the bottom line of my post was that ‘we vote every day by our actions’ which is completely true and probably a lot more specifically relevant than the actual vote i do or don’t cast [well i don’t cos i am from africa… you know, the country, and they won’t even take my blood here to save peoples lives so they definitely don’t want my vote]. but for those of you who felt cheated by it i thort i would look at some of the myths or statements people make [or just downright lies] when it comes to voting… these are all ideas that came out of our midrash the other night and so i am not saying they are all my points or ideas, but are definitely an interesting perspective on some aspects of voting [so please view these as interesting points to get you thinking rather than definitive absolute truth statements]:

# my piddly little single vote doesn’t count – a lot of people feel like this and with the voting being in the millions, mine surely doesn’t count at all right? Only if you haven’t seen ‘A Bug’s Life’ and I’m talking beyond the brilliance that was “Stay away from the light!” “I can’t, it’s so beauuuuutifiuuuuuulllll FZZZT” or Antz… one bug vs the big scary insects – impossible – but a million bugs vs the twenty big scary insects… life-changing… one of the people at the midrash posed it this way – what if people said the same about recycling? with the millions of kilograms of recycling needing to be done, how does my little bit count? well, for it to count it needs each of the millions of little bugs to do their bit but whether it is recycling or voting, each one adds up.

# i’m going to vote for the lesser of two evils – party one has people who want to raise taxes and increase the burden on the poor, party two has people who want to make it okay to kill babies… well i can’t pick any one because they both have bad things about them, so let me pick the lesser of two evils… this is probably a punt for the ‘don’t vote’ people but the question raised was, ‘Why would you pick any evil?’ – i remember someone arguing against someone else years ago and it turned out they didn’t even strongly believe in what they were arguing for – “Well, how can you argue that then?” asked the first person. “I’m playing devil’s advocate,” was the response/ “Well why would you ever want to work for him?” was the comeback. And i think there is some truth to this – the phrase ‘lesser of two evils’ is not a phrase that you would ever hear Jesus advocating because He always picked the route of no evil and as far as the Bible is concerned it seems to indicate that there will always be a way for us to do this [No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10.13] as well. And maybe not voting is that way.

# voting for one of the smaller parties makes no difference – this used to get me so mad in South Africa – there was a Christian party that came along with some really good people in it who really seemed to have some good ideas about education and other important aspects and i heard so many people use this excuse as to why they didn’t vote for them – in fact many people chose what they saw as the lesser of two evils over a party that many of them believed in… and so it became the truth… but if the amount of people i heard say that line was a small representation of everyone thinking that line and voting that way, then if all of them had voted for the small party it would have made a significant difference, even if it only meant one or two more people from that party would have gotten into parliament because that would have meant one or two more voices of sanity and Godliness… [this reminds me of the little kid with the starfish on the beach making a difference to them one at a time but WHAT IF EVERYONE WHO WAS MEANT TO BE ON THE BEACH WAS ON THE BEACH – then suddenly you are making a difference to hundreds and thousands and eventually millions] – the more people who vote for parties they believe in, the more representation those parties will have which will hopefully encourage more people to vote for them and eventually get them to a place where they can make a difference.

# if you don’t vote then you can’t complain – there was a great response to this one which was turning it on its head and saying actually if you voted someone in then you can’t complain, but if you didn’t vote and someone who you didn’t want to get in got in then you definitely have a right to voice concerns whereas if you voted someone in and they turned out to be not the person you were hoping for, well, then it is your vote that got them there and can you really complain?

# as followers of Christ it is my duty to vote – a lot of people play this card and i just don’t know if it’s true – i think a lot of us grow up with the line of ‘voting is a responsible thing to do’ and so even considering not voting feels like a completely alien concept – and i don’t know that i have settled on whether voting or not voting is the answer [which is why i will continue to focus more heavily on voting every day with how i live my life, decisions i make on recycling and what food and clothes products i buy and where i eat out and so on] but i imagine if we are trying to put spiritual pressure on people to vote then we really need to go back to the bible and ask if that is really what we are being commanded to do. Jesus didn’t overthrow the Roman government [which many of the people were hoping he would] but He also didn’t always align Himself with the religious or political leaders of His day. so i think it becomes a question of conscience and as a follower of Jesus what might be more important than voting or not might be how i treat my friends and others around me who arrive at a different opinion than mine…

to vote or not to vote? that is a question…

but to love God, to love people, to always forgive anyone who has wronged me, to look after the least of these [especially widows and children] and to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey what Jesus taught us… no question! So let’s start with that.

Or Broccoli Obama?

for some radical and revolutionary thoughts from Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw in the ‘Jesus for President’ mould, check out this updated article on Red Letter Christians where they share some creativity about how we can engage healthily and in a way that may spell out revolution.

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