Tag Archive: violence


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i get it, South Africa is in a bit of a mess right now, and that statement is a bit of an understatement.

And yes, xenophobia might not be the correct word, but it’s the one most people understand and so it does seem to work for now so please don’t let us get distracted by that.

With this whole Xenophobia vibe, there are two truths:

[1] One truth is violence, fear, destruction, hate

[2] Another truth is peace marches, shelter, protection and life.

The problem on social media this past week, as far as i can tell, is that for the most part only one truth has been emphasised.

While it is important for us to be aware of what is going on [i think we all are by now, yes?] i think we need to realise the responsibility each of us has in the way we share the truth, or the way we choose which truth to share.

Neither of the two truths is the whole truth.

Yes, we would love to see the government more involved, or at least more vocal, and this is definitely something the police and maybe even the military need to be involved in, but again, we have a responsibility outside of that. Whether they do or not and whether it is in a way that is helpful or not, each of us can play our part.

And while i don’t know what the actual answers are when it comes to the actual violence that is happening [besides possibly showing up in numbers and saying “Not on our watch!” although it is hard to know where to go] i do know that we can do our part. And much better than we have.

Fear breeds more fear. Hate breeds panic. Violence breeds hopelessness and disillusionment.

i think it is important for us to take a deep breath and realise that these incidents are actually representative of the minority [which you would not think if you took notice of all the negativity being shared, forwarded, liked and eaten up].

Which is why i have committed myself [and am calling on others] to start to share more of the positive truths that are true of so many of the people of South Africa [of all races, social classes, areas, genders etc].

Let us be more excited to share the good that is happening so that other people who are feeling fearful and hopeless and despondent might be encouraged and motivated to get up and become part of more good, seeing that it does happen and is working.

i don’t even have an idea why people share videos of violence on social media – yes, it’s important we know it is happening, but if we choose to watch it, then i think a little piece of our humanity leaves through the window. Fortunately we’ve been so desensitised by television and movie violence that we don’t even care…

So what i am suggesting and inviting you to do, is to become greater sharers of the more positive truth.

Like this story by my mate Rob from Zimbabwe which is hugely positive and encouraging and representative of stuff he is seeing all the time over there.

Like these stories i am trying to post every week by someone in South Africa sharing the story of someone else in South Africa who is doing something [big or small] that gives them hope.

Like this tab on my blog looking at South Africa and different aspects of how we can move positively forward or just celebrate some of the beautiful kalidoscope of who we are

And more. We live in a beautiful country and we need to claim it both in word and deed, online and out there on the streets. We must not lose sight of the incredible things that are happening all around the country and the millions of people who are wanting this all to work out well. Let’s commit to sharing at least one positive story for every negative one we pass on, but preferably more. Let’s commit to finding and sharing those stories as we see them happening around us. And to be personally involved in making those stories as we build bridges, invest in relationships, become agents of peace and love rather than soothsayers of doom.

Who is with me?

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i used to receive me daily Pearls before Swine deliver to my mailbox, but recently this stopped happening for some reason… so now when i remember i dive into the site and do a little catching up [although this also bodes well for me when i order my next Pearls Before Swine annual because there will be ones i have not seen] and these two floated to the top when i did:

PearlsbeforeCars

Sometimes Stephan works so hard:

Pearls before Stones

 [For a rare surprising twist heart-warming cynicism-free Pearls Strip on Quality Time, click here]

[For my growing collection of all fun strips Pearls before Swine, click here]

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.’

let me be honest, i am tired of all the Oscar Pistorius ‘stuff’ – i am tired of it and i wish it would go away.

i am also deeply disturbed by it. i don’t know that i completely understand why, altho i know it has something to do with the fact that it feels like almost everyone has an opinion, many people have made judgements, many others are just sending links and updates and quotes and there seems to be something a little too much in that – this article that calls us all vultures, seems to capture some of what i am feeling the best

i have mostly wanted to not write about it, because i don’t want to be just another voice commentating on something i don’t have a lot of facts about – presuppositions for sure, news posted comments definitely and a lot of opinion and argument and sentiment and so on, but no one really knows what happened [except maybe Oscar] and maybe we never really will. so i will keep my writing to the idea of the thing, rather than the thing itself, as that is something i do have a little bit more of a valid opinion about.

the celebrity aspect has to be a part of it – if that was James Smith [google ‘James Smith’ to make sure i haven’t accidentally picked another celebrity name] then this case would not have even registered a blip on the radar. in fact there was a newspaper headline board on a pole when i went out earlier that read ‘two more girls killed in cape town’ and no one [relatively] is going to even know that that happened. so because the guy who allegedly shot the girl [Reeva Steenkamp by the way although it finally feels like everyone now knows her name as well] is famous, somehow this case means more.

i mean at this very point i am multi-tasking between writing this blog and trying to convince someone on facebook that a cartoon of Elmer Fudd blowing a woman’s head off with a shotgun because she is making a duck face at her camera is NOT OKAY… it is not “just a cartoon bro” and even further, ” I’m 100% positive no person on their right mind will shoot a girl in the face for taking a picture like that.” Yes, i’m with you on that point, i don’t think they will, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY!

on a different page, my friend Megan is posting awareness photos as to how often images of violence are subtly woven into advertising as far as women are concerned and the link from her original post to an article focusing on ‘America’s Next Top Model 8’: Week Four: Crime Scene Victims just makes me feel sick to my stomach – the challenge is for each model to pose as a person who has been killed in a different way – with a judge commenting, “What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.” – i couldn’t even make it through all the images…

it just leaves me wondering how far have we gone? and how long will we continue to call this all normal?

and how can i be part of the remedy?

i think it must be along the lines of posting and speaking and pointing towards and declaring LIFE. not to pretend that darkness and death and brokenness is not happening [we must never do that – we MUST act when people share ridiculous cartoon pictures and when people are challenging the mentality behind advertising and the fact that a celebrity should not be allowed to get away with something no-one else should] but to remind ourselves in the midst of it that LIFE is happening. the smallest light destroys and chases away the darkness!

and so i want to call on you [and me] this week to look out for stories of goodness and grace and beauty and Love and to share them via your status or your Twitter or your blog – for every negative story that is out there, let us share a positive one. if we can’t stop all that is bad [at least instantly] then let us at least celebrate and cheer on and be encouraged by that which is good. let those stories give us the strength and belief to get involved in the less-than-happy ones and hopefully see more positive endings to those as well.

life to the full

i am thinking of the invitation i just received to Linawo Chilren’s home’s 10th birthday celebrations, i am talking about the children’s house Val is a trustee of and the uThando LeNkosi Work Day, i am even simply talking about Monday night’s TheatreSports show at the Intimate theatre in town – whatever it is, let’s just start speaking and sharing some life, so that we don’t get taken completely down by the darkness…

for the first positive upbuilding story focusing on Nicholas McCarthy, one-handed pianist, click here…

a story of pilots flying in water and supplies to flooded areas and also a site for daily stories of good news

the inspiring and humourous no limbed Nick Vujicic has a baby boy…

is anyone with me on this?

if you have never watched or heard of a Brad Fish ‘Dangerous Things You Can Least Expect’ video then where have you been?

Brad Fish is an alternative persona of Brett Fish [heeeeeey!?!] who runs a You Tube show in which he gives wise wisdom [is there any other kind?] in terms of friendly warning to prepare people from things they might have thought of as being innocent and dangerless but which in fact turn out to be pretty dangerous-potentialistic… you can view some of the old videos here and also here but this is the latest in the series and Brad Fish might have outdone himself…

So watch as Brad Fish warns the public about the dangers of vilens… [excuse the spelling, it are not his strong point of his]

 

on December 8, 1980, John Lennon, member of one of the most famous rock bands in the world, the Beatles, was shot and killed. his killer’s name – Mark Chapman.

how do i know that? possibly the only reason i do is that i have a friend called Mark Chapman, and so it has come up… but when i think back to people who were killed many years ago, there are some cases where i may have heard or recognise the name of the person doing the killing, but for the most part it was the person who was killed who was the focus.

in recent times, it has seemed to swing the other way. the killer receives all the headlines and face time. the victims remaining largely nameless.

which brings us to this crazy week in americaland, where yet another school shooting has happened and everyone is up in arms [literally, as Texas recorded a significant increase in gun sales since the shooting, possibly riding on the back of fears that finally something will be done by the government to make it harder for the average person on the street to own a gun, and guns] and social networks are going crazy with everyone having an opinion on gun control and school safety and the need for the president to do more.

one article i read suggested that a solution is to stop giving the killers any air time at all – let them remain anonymous so that we don’t glorify and in a sense celebritise what they have done. but as long as the majority of us continue to slow down at the site of a car accident i cannot see that happening.

there seems to be some twisted, warped part of us that secretly takes some kind of pleasure in the ‘need to know what happened’ – to hear the details, to be the first one to recount them, to get all political in our tweets and our facebook updates, to somehow feel like we’ve played some kind of useful part, when probably all we’ve done is help build the hysteria.

and i really do think Hollywood and the computer games manufacturers have to put up their hands and take some sense of ownership of responsibility for continuing to desensitise the general public to horrifically graphic violence… and us for continuing to consume it [this is an area where years ago i made a strong movement from things i was okay to watch, to what i find acceptable now, although no doubt with some unintentional hypocrisy and need for more change within there]

i feel like there is just so much that can be said on this thing but i don’t have great words for it and even this post is probably a waste of time. the thing that stands out the most for me, perhaps, is that this thing that happened, with 27 people tragically shot, is that it didn’t make me cry. i honestly don’t know why that is. something of this magnitude should break each and every one of us. but it didn’t. and for that i am ashamed. and maybe for how i have fed my mind and soul. i mourn and grieve and am moved for sure. but something of the regularity of events like this has created the sense of “oh, another one” which i think is a horrible, horrible thing.

i do think the government needs to do better. but i know that the most control i have relates to me. and those i am in relationship with. is there anything we can, and are prepared to do? i really hope so.

but for now, what i can do, is use this space to at least honour the names of the people who were killed [and don’t get me wrong, i feel for the shooter too and his family, and his death is a complete tragedy as well because how was he allowed to get to that point? where did community or family or friends fail him?] by the shooter, instead of mentioning and adding to the hype surrounding his name as there is enough of that going on already…

so the staff and children of Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut who were killed in the shooting:

– Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
– Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
– Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
– Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
– Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
– Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
– Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
– Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
– Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
– Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
– Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
– Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
– James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
– Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
– Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
– Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
– Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
– Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
– Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
– Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
– Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
– Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
– Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
– Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
– Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
– Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female
and Nancy Lanza [the shooter’s mom]

we list your names in remembrance and we hold your families and friends up in prayer trusting that the God of light will bring some good somehow out of what has been a tragic and horror-filled occasion.

are we big enough to move past our fascination with and hunger for violence in our movies and books, in our music and art? or will we continue to justify freedom of expression and the phrases “it’s only a…” or “it doesn’t affect me” and together seek unity in doing everything we can to make sure something like this never happens again?

you may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

this week the third lausanne congress for world evangelication is happening in cape town – 4200 delegates from around the world representing church leaders, academics, theologians, marketplace people as well as men, women as well as old, young – convening for a week to discuss relevant issues facing the church – things like globalisation, pluralism, multi-faith society, relevance, integrity, response to poverty, trafficking etc etc – it is an incredible time and i am so super amped for the beautiful Val that she gets to be a part of it

in 2006 i was privileged to be a part of what was called the younger leaders gathering where 500 people from 150 churches met in malaysia for a similiar younger version of this congress – it was life-changing and i met some really amazing people who continue to be a part of my life – and this week i am involved in a global link which is a satellite conference dealing with a lot of stuff Lausanne is dealing with (watching a lot of same footage and hearing same talks and then engaging with the stuff) – last nite was the first session and went from super not amped (organisational issues in setting it up) to being completely amped (the group that arrived) and then encouraged/blown away/broken/challenged/shaken by the footage that we watched, in particular the history of the church (very very good and very very bad and a lot of persecution) from Jesus time to present day

the one phrase that came through about 6 to 8 times in that presentation was “people thort it was going to be the end of the world” (for example when the plague claimed about a third of Europe’s population or something) and as the voiceover guy said at the end – every generation thinks there’s is going to be the last, but one of them will be right

but the one message that came through again and again is that a divided church is a weak and foolish and irrelevant thing – the church is responsible for a lot of missingthepointness and violence and hypocracy and so on in terms of the past (well, not really, if you define church as God-following people cos it hasn’t been when people have been truly following God that that stuff has happened) but it has also been part of an incredible amount of good and positive and upliftment and life – when the church is a group of people who follow God and walk in the footsteps of Jesus while filled by His Spirit and living that out, then the church is a beautiful thing – that church is worth loudly proclaiming that i am a part of

if you are part of a local congregation and either you or one of your leaders ever makes any statement or claim about your specific church being the one true church or better than other churches or anything like that or speaks out against other churches then run, flee, head for the hills, leave that ‘church’ and seek out Jesus…

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