Tag Archive: unity


i spoke yesterday about the search for a new normal.

When it comes to a new and exciting more-unified South Africa [which i what i dream and try and live towards] then one of the areas we need to see this in is moving away from the idea and practice of “Us vs. Them”.

Let’s look at some actual comments made on my blog recently:

‘The shack fires are caused by the shack dwellers. They should maybe go back to the EC? It is illegal to build shacks on open land.’ [Viv]

‘Further, they have a deep seated jealousy of the colonist whom they can see on a daily basis is more sophisticated and superior in intellect and behavior to them. What they cannot have or be…they want to destroy.’ [ClaytonAndrew]

‘I fear I’m out too. lol. Why bother when they vote ANC?’ [Marcia]

‘All they want now is for whites to come back and bail them out. They want whites to come and do all the donkey-work, get paid peanuts and be refused promotion for efficiency. Stuff that, I say. Let them sink. If they are so good then they must show us what they can do. They should show us, without the help of white consultants, how they can save themselves and the country.’ [Derick]

And many more…

Us vs. Them

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What i typically hear in the Us vs. Them discourse that regularly rears its ugly head in my blog comments is a sense of the Us [typically white people] being superior to the Them [typically black people]. Sometimes it is clearly stated in terms of the idea that white people have a higher IQ than black people [and the assumption that even if that was true that it meant anything significant beyond having the specific skills that make you good at IQ tests as opposed to the implied consequence of it meaning something about being more clever] or better skills [cos of how white people invented everything, apparently] and other times just more subtly insinuated or assumed.

And as long as we divide this country into an Us and a Them [or a number of Us and Thems – men vs women, Cape Town vs Joburg, Local vs Foreigner etc] i think we will have problems when it comes to transformation. No, let’s be stronger on that – we WILL have problems!

The major issue is that the moment we speak [think/act] Us vs Them, we build a wall that is impossible for the Them to climb. We ‘protect’ ourselves behind walls and wires and alarms and as much as it all may give us the impression that we are safe from outside harm, we have also very much cut ourselves off from the very relationships needed to break down and do away with any feeling of need of the barriers we have put up.

Protect from hate and hurt? Maybe. But also definitely ‘protect’ from love, understanding, unity, growth. Mutual togetherness.

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A guy in a hat once asked ‘Am I not destroying my enemies by making friends with them?’ [Actually i think we can give Jesus Christ credit for the idea when one of His principle teachings was to ‘Love your enemy as yourself’ – enemy love being one of the defining marks of the early Christians]

And that is where the Us vs. Them has to die. And it really must die, if we are to have any hope of moving forwards and creating something new and appealing and workable. I have no doubt that the solution for the majority of South Africa’s problems is relationships: genuine, authentic, sacrificial, costly.

‘To love is to recognise yourself in another’ [Ekhart Tolle]. A Them is nameless and more than likely faceless. It is very easy for a Them to quickly be seen as a thing or an it. A Them dehumanises so that the person we are dealing with can quickly become an issue or a problem and we can be very cold and calculated in how we deal with it. But the moment a Them has a face, and then perhaps a name, and the moment we lean in and start to listen [and i mean really listen – to hear and understand with not sense of judging or comparing or explaining away] and hear the story of the other, that is when the Them starts to transform into an Us.

That is when the walls and wires start to seem a lot more unnecessary.

Black guy begging at my car window for money at the traffic lights is easy to drive by, without looking at or giving a second thought to.

But Xolani, who is trying to make money to keep his younger sisters in school and put enough food on the table today so that they don’t go to bed hungry again. Whose father was never on the scene and whose mother died of TB. Well, suddenly it is a whole lot easier for me to start to empathise and draw alongside and see if there is any way that we can walk a journey together.

One of the refrains we heard a lot when we were at the Simple Way was the line that ‘It’s not that the rich and poor don’t like each other. It’s that they don’t know each other.’ So typically donations from rich to poor were handled by a middle person or organisation in the form of a church or NPO and so rich and poor never got to lock eyes or share a meal or hear a story.

It is the same with the Us and the Them.

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i don’t believe we will be able to argue this one out. i think we desperately need to relationship it out.

One of tbV and my decisions when looking for a place was that we didn’t want to move into an area where everyone looked like us. While our priorities changed somewhat during the searching process [as we realised looking back on almost 6 intensive years of marriage that we actually could use a season of giving some focus to us and working on our marriage and having a space conducive to that] we didn’t let go of that one. Even though Southfield is not Mannenberg or a township, the area we live in has a variety of different people living there and the next step is figuring out how to engage well with our neighbours as we settle in.

But i do think where we choose to live will play a key role in this conversation.

i think who we choose to regularly engage with will play a similar role – i have loved ‘meeting’ some new black friends via simply creating some space for them to write on my blog and look forward to growing those relationships offline. My friend Nkosi is an absolute joy to me and is teaching me so much through some of the live conversations we have been able to have. Both Avuyile and Sindile wrestle with cricket-related issues with me online and share in the joys and frustrations of our national team, and were the matches not regularly at 3am i have no doubt Avuyile and i would be watching the quarters together. i do love and enjoy my many white friends but we definitely need to be more intentional in who we spend our time with if we are wanting to be a part of a new and diverse country that takes time to listen to each other and wrestle out issues together. It has been incredible watching God bring people of different race and culture into our lives in a way that has felt natural as opposed to us feeling like we need to go and find black and coloured people to be friends with. But i do think that if we look around in life and discover that everyone looks a lot like us, that there is something that should probably change.

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Obviously there is a lot more. But i think it begins with us taking on the whole Us vs. Them mindset and relegating it to the garbage dump. And then setting fire on it. And feeding the remains to ants. And then nuking them. You get the point.

While it remains, it will continue to devalue and desensitise and especially dehumanise whoever we refer to as ‘the other’. We need to have our lives renewed by the transformation of our minds.

And it has to start with me. Because as much as i want to believe i am not afflicted by the disease of Us vs. Them thinking, i more than likely am. So i need to make myself accountable to those who love me and invite them to point it out and challenge it any time it surfaces. And squash it immediately and every time.

And it has to start with you. Will you commit with me to actively trying to move away from an Us vs. Them mindset and Us vs. Them language?

Let’s see if we can find the ‘We’ together in this. Because that is when the dreams will really start kicking into action and be being realised.

[For some other South Africa related posts on my blog, click here]

rainbow i have loved the conversations happening on my blog with regards to matters of Race recently. A lot of the posts are specific to South Africa, but i imagine there are themes, ideas and principles that will translate to other contexts around the world and it will be good to get some outside voices as it were to comment as well. What has been particularly exciting to see has been the spirit of engagement that has taken place in the comments sections as people with clearly differing views have looked to listen and address what is being raised and queried without letting it become personal or aggressive. i thought it would be helpful to create a home page specifically focusing on ways of moving forwards so that these conversations are easier to find and jump into. So please look around and more importantly dive in and get involved – we want to hear your voice. But please play nice. Let’s wrestle but with open minds and the possibility of hearing and learning new things and ways as we try and figure out this New South Africa together. As we seek to build a truly Rainbow Nation:

A Practical Way Forward – We invited some friends round for dinner and a conversation on race, location and boundary.

Time to Lose the Other – i think this is one of the most important conversations we need to have in SA: Us vs. Them

First Steps Towards a  really New South Africa: Nkosi Gola gives some thoughts on the question, ‘What can white people do as first steps towards making a difference?’

First Steps in the New South Africa – Sindile Vabaza tackles the same question with some different perspective and a really exciting way of viewing the future.

Steps Towards Transformation – Hulisani Khorombi steps into the conversation and shares some of her thoughts.

A Look at Employment Equity – Sindile Vabaza talks through this one example of things to consider when pushing ahead

Inching closer to a Changed South Africa – hear some thoughts from Michael Talbot on his journey of listening and questioning

Some thoughts on Restitution – Avuyile Tu from Khayelitsha shares some ideas on this important topic

10 Important things for the Rainbow Nation to hear – Busi Ledibane shares some of her thoughts on things that need to change

[For other conversations on different aspects of the Race question, click here]

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Here are simply a collection of stories from people who have lived in countries or areas of diversity and have a race theme to a part of their story which they have so graciously decided to share with us:

Meet Deborah Dowlath [Trinidad and Tobago]

Meet Kevin Lloyd James Lok [South Africa]

Meet Caley Daniels [South Africa]

Meet Susan Hayden [reblog of ‘Disco Pants & a Mountain’ post]

last nite i was invited by some new friends we’ve made here to join the Oakland City Watch team in a walk they do around the neighborhood [we live on 61st Ave and we walked around the streets closer to 90th so not crazy far away] that has three messages for the people of the community:

# We care!

# We want to see an end to violence, especially gun violence!

# How can we help you?

so a roomful of maybe 40 to 50 people of all shapes and sizes [although apart from one grade seven boy i felt like the next youngest there so a bunch of 30 years and older people mostly] – black, white, hispanic, korean – from a variety of different churches, put on these white windbreaker identification jackets and armed with fliers that explained to anyone who asked what we were about, we walked the streets for maybe an hour, waving at cars who responded to the “Honk if you want an end to gun violence” signs and engaging with anyone who was interested as we walked past them. No specific message except that of unity and peace in the neighborhood and that we were hoping merely by our presence to make a difference [apparently since they started these walks 6 months ago, murders have decreased in the areas they have walked through]

this brief video on You Tube gives a glimpse into the heart behind the walk and introduces some of the hardcore leaders [mostly pastors from different churches] who are organising this thing.

“we want it to be tangible”

“more than just words from a tv from a pulpit”

“we want to be persistent. this is something we’re doing every week not just for one night”

“we don’t want to fight against the young men but against the violence itself”

as i walked the streets last nite, when i wasn’t engaging in incredibly life-giving conversation with this big African American ex-pastor called Ben who heads up the team [and who i found out lives a street away from me, so hoping for deeper connection there] and our new friend, Matt, i was thinking of Kensington where we stayed in Philly and how something like this could work so well there [and of my friend Derrick Gregory who i have already been in conversation with about the possibility of him thinking more through the possibilities it holds]

as i write this i think of my friends Sheralyn and Sammi who live in Woodstock in Cape Town and of the Pedersens and others who are doing a kind of organic church in the fringes of the city and how something like this might look for them.

i think of areas of huge gangsterism and violence like mannenberg and hanover park and wonder if the church there got mobilised to start doing something similar.

and am brought back to the conversation of stability i had with Ben and those conversations which i’ve been having with tbV for the last two years inspired by the monks of the Benedictine monastery we visited while staying at the Simple Way, and even the idea of incarnation [living amongst the people you are working with and ministering to] fostered by the Simple Way and my time in Kayamandi

i read a quote this week that said something like church is not the place you go to, but the place you go out from and that kind of feels like the strong surgings that i have within me right now [not really anything new, just a new flame being lit on this particular fire] and a loud powerful shout to the church of Cape Town [yes, you Common Ground and Christ Church Kenilworth and 100 others] to take seriously the need for the church to be outside of the building and on the streets if we are going to make any discernible difference at all to the state of things back home.

or wherever you are reading this. this idea is so ridiculously simply and just needs a small group of people to put their hands up and go, ‘hey, that’s something practical we can do right here.’

As we look at Mark chapter 3 verse 20-27 i take a bit of a reverse glimpse of it by looking at denominations vs denominationalism [or as i sometimes refer to them in talks as demonisations which is what we make of denominations when we start worshipping them or who they are] and encourage each of us, whether we belong to a denomination or not [don’t get me started on “non-denominational”], to be keeping the kingdom of God and the greater church in mind as we live out our Jesus-following lives…

Take a look at Mark 3 vs 20-27

denom

to continue to the next one and see Jesus’ thoughts on family, click here.

the series continues to breathe and i hope no-one is getting tired cos there is still a lot of great stuff to come – this bit of advice on how to grow a strong marriage comes from my older sister Susan Minne:

We have been married for just over 20 years. I don’t think we have ever stopped dating (still on honeymoon).

I suppose if I have to choose one key thing (hard to choose only one) I would have to say that we don’t play the blame game – ever! Everything is about the team (us). If one of us succeeds, then we both celebrate. If one of us messes up, then we both figure out how to fix it. No time for blaming each other. We also don’t raise our voices at each other. In fact, we have never raised our voices at each other in the 23 years since we met.

Hope that helps.

[married for 20 years]

to head to part 16, a slightly longer one but so so good, click here…

we watched a panel do some talking around the theme of globalisation yesterday and i jotted down some interesting lines and thorts on my phone while it was happening:

with globalisation there are three stages we need to go through:

– we need to discern
– we need to assess
– we need to engage

is it right or wrong, it is good or bad, is it useful or useless – too often as the church we can throw the whole thing out instead of taking the time to go through those three steps and see where we can get involved and make the most of what is happening in the world – Jesus often used the context around Him (fish, children, people putting money into the offering) to teach His audience – when it comes to globalisation, the scope is vast and so both throwing out and holding onto everything is going to have negative results – but discerning, assessing and then engaging is going to be valuable, productive and effective

one of the speakers said that one of the needs during globalisation is for the rest of the world (specifically the south, where the shift of power is happening – india, china and africa and so on) to go to the west and help them win back the west [for so long there has been the mindset of the west going out to save/help/reach and now the reality is that the west contains some of the biggest need, especially when it comes to the gospel and living it out]

there is too much world in the church [and not enough church in the world] – one person in my small group said it like this quoting DL Moody – the church is like a boat has been made to be on the water – but heaven help the people in the boat once the water starts coming in to the boat – the two extremes here are becoming too isolated and becoming too worldly and the church has been guilty of both in different areas – our national vineyard conference recently met with the theme of ‘taking the church out of the building’ and i really believe that is a huge key to the future – links strongly with the split between sacred and secular [that actually if we include/invite/involve God in every aspect of our lives then everything is or should be spiritual] – we need to be infecting the world and not the other way around

lots of churchianity, not enough Christ-ianity…

then three aspects of the gospel that need to be happening:

– we need to believe the gospel
– we need to behave the gospel (live it out)
– we need to bear the gospel (take it out)
– and a fourth would be that it is a Biblical gospel

which links to the vision statement of lausanne which is ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’

another statement that was made was this: never before in the west have we had so much (stuff, toys, technology, opportunity) – never before have we had so little (depth, genuine relationship, life-transformation)

one of the problems of Christianity in the west is that it has been pitched as a product to buy – it never shows as discipleship because it never was truth – is there any surprise that we don’t live any differently to the world – what can i get out of this? how does it make me feel? how does it change me? a religion that is me-centered as opposed to a relationship that revolves completely around God that i am privileged to be an active participant in

one of the keys is that we need to be making disciples rather than converts – and even taking it a step further – we need to be making disciplers, rather than just disciples

another point which ties in with globalisation and this discussion on church is a statement John Fisher made at a breakfast recently when he was talking about his love of the church and he said we don’t need uniformity, we need unity – that is one of the biggest things that if we could get right, we would see the world changed…

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