Tag Archive: oppression


apartheid

 

 

 

a short while ago two South Africans sparked an international discussion about racism, guilt and responsibility when they printed and distributed forty t-shirts with the slogan ‘I benefited from apartheid’ written on them:

 

 

 

 

 

zapiro

 

 

well-known political satirist Jonathan Shapiro [aka Zapiro] came up with this minimalistic but powerful cartoon which expressed his take on the matter:

 

 

 

are they right? yes, for sure, i definitely had [and still have] benefits from apartheid – they were not as a result of my choosing, or even my parents choosing, but they are real.

so in a nutshell i have to feel guilty for being white.

i also have to feel guilty for being male. women have been oppressed in this country and around the world for who knows how many decades, centuries even. have i benefited from that? surely i have. i may not have chosen my penis but it has served me well, just by being there.

what else is there?

english-speaking? because surely as one of the dominant languages that worldwide communication and media have been presented in, this has forced some kind of pain and trauma on those who have been forced to speak it?

christian? while i prefer the term ‘Christ-follower personally’ i know that being grouped in this group racks up the score column for guilt and shame [no-one expected the Spanish Inquisition…]

how about heterosexual? [because heaven knows we’ve treated the gays badly]

i imagine there are probably more, but it seems as if there is enough data to suggest that i am part of the most privileged demographic imaginable – white male heterosexual english-speaking christian… and therefore the most guilty.

i think i get it. to a large extent. having benefited from apartheid etc etc i need to own that and take responsibility and be involved in reconciliation and reparation where possible as well as doing what i can do to address the various imbalances that now exist as a result of the past.

at the same time, is there a time when it ends? when i can stop feeling the need to feel guilty because i am white, because i am a man, because i…

because, to be very honest, i did not have a lot of say in the whiteness of my white, i wasn’t all that involved in the maleness of my maleity, i was born into english, i am attracted to women [and one very beautiful one in particular]

the only thing on my list that i can see that i had any part in choosing to be a part of is the christian one and even there i have chosen to align myself to a Christ-following which i hope looks a LOT different from the majority of wrongs and perversions that the typical historical christian [those who profess one thing but live another] has gotten horribly wrong.

in terms of the apartheid debris in South Africa, i will continue to do what i can to make amends and take responsibility for the past i largely inherited, but will there be a time when i am allowed to ask questions of the post-apartheid government who continue to be a hive of corruption, mismanagement, greed and nepotism and spend/waste/party this country into the ground?

because, to be honest, it’s been 18 years now. you’re practically legal new democracy. Mandela showed you the way you could choose to live – with grace, forgiveness, honour, invitation, integrity… and it is up to you at some stage to embrace that.

to be honest, i don’t actively carry any guilt for any of who i am, no matter how much the pressure is exerted to do so. i know that i’m far from perfect and i try to live better, day to day, than how i lived the day before. i try to take responsibility when i mess up and make things right with the people i have hurt or wronged. and i believe this is something that needs to be embraced by every one of us, so that we can really turn this country around and make it the incredible place it should be.

so when do we stop blaming apartheid? when do we start taking responsibility together?

unity.

ubuntu.

you and me. let’s do this.

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so bible-flipping is not an exact science but when i flipped open mine this morning and it landed on psalm 73, i think that was divinely nudged to the nth degree…

‘Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”

This is what the wicked are like – always carefree, they increase in wealth.

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.

If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Surely You place them on slippery ground; You cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when You arise, O Lord, You will, despise them as fantasies.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You.

Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.’

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

i’m not sure how pure my heart is, or how innocent i am, but i can relate to a lot of this right now. i don’t even know how honest it would be for me to declare ‘earth has nothing i desire besides You’ – in theory yes, but in practice i think i am too close to too much that this world has on ‘offer’ – i’m not feeling like a great Christ-follower right now – i’m not sure how my life positively impacts others to the extent that it should – which i think – and hope – is tied up in next year and the new thing and really needing a change and needing to be in a space of my day to day living impacting people. more.

i get deeply inspired by keith green and shane claiborne but i am so far away from living what any of them lived/live on a day to day basis. i am hungry for it though and that has to be a start. waiting on God and being inspired by words like those will help.

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