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Out Of Our Minds

By admin
26 April 2015

Desmond Tutu once said, "To be neutral in witnessing injustice means one has chosen the side of the oppressor."

With these words I want to take time and cheer everyone who took time to voice out their hearts against xenophobia - whether you blogged about it, or hashtagged it, or marched a kilometer; it doesn't matter. What matters is that you didn't keep quite when another human life was reduced to ashes or butchered to death.

Silence in this case is not golden. Your silence will only mean you support violence done against another human being.

If we go down the corridors of human history, it is clear before our eyes that human hands are full of blood because they have chosen to see violence as the best way of solving problems.

In movies that depict ancient life, wherein there are witch-hunters, we see a community of people gathering to blame one person for their problems. Interestingly, the person who is blamed for the problems is different (language, ethnicity and gender). If it's a male-dominated community, the scapegoat will be a female or vice versa.

The victim will be killed and the community will celebrate its victory, but little do they know that their victory is temporal. This, therefore, will mean that for them to maintain their victory, they will have to keep on finding a scapegoat.

This is what has happened in South Africa in 2008. There was a strong xenophobia outbreak and the reason for that was, according to South African citizens, that foreign nationals are consuming the resources that rightfully belong to them.

"Foreigners" (remember the scapegoat has to be different) were attacked and killed, and South African citizens who participated in that were happy, for such an act brought peace to them. But the question remains: was it an eternal peace? Surely it was temporal because even post that we saw minor occurrences of xenophobia and we turned a blind eye on them until recently.

The recent xenophobic attacks have moved so many people into tears and many countries within the continent are retaliating too. Retaliation is normal because people always seek justice which in Biblical terms is what we call "eye for an eye."

The "eye for an eye" tradition is seen even in the pages of the Bible: "The blood of Jesus speaks better than the blood of Abel." The blood of Abel speaks vengeance (eye for an eye) and the blood of Jesus speaks forgiveness (sending off our guilt).

One of the reasons that Jesus came was to do away with vengeance or sacrificial thoughts. When the Jewish mob crucified Him, He forgave them while He was still dangling on the cross. "And you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses" - Acts 3:15.

It was the sacrificial system or mentality that led Jesus to the altar by the mob, but the Bible says God raised Him. This gives me comfort because it reveals that God is always on the side of the victim. May all the victims of xenophobia know that God is with them and He will comfort them in these trying times.

For South African, Jesus' words are still true to you: "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Our evil and ungodly acts are forgiven by God but it will be noble of us to repent. It won't hurt an inch if we swallow our pride and say sorry to the ones we have hurt and also say sorry to God. By doing so, we are recognizing what Jesus has done for us - He has forgiven us.

Paul was also violent towards the church but when the revelation of Jesus got hold him, we heard him saying: "Therefore from now on I recognize no man according to the flesh." Paul is saying that if we limit ourselves in seeing people as originals and "foreigners" or black and white, we are missing out in seeing people as they are. They are the image of God and they are worth much more to God than we can ever imagine.

Sadly, it is in the aftermath that we recognise that people are people. If we are to be honest, how many of us tweeted or uploaded #NoToXenophobia posts but before the xenophobia attacks have said that "these people must go", or "I don't trust these Somalians", or "they have contributed negatively to our economy", or "why did they leave their countries"? To some degree, we have hated them, solely for being in South Africa. We did so because we recognised them according to the flesh and thus their existence was a hindrance to our "good" or "progression".

What happens when we see the images of a human being burnt? You then recognise that we are together in this human journey and another person's existence is not a bad thing at all. I can assure you now, when you posted #NoToXenophobia, you didn't stop and think of their religion or sexuality or if they are criminals or not. Our perceptions were challenged because of the evil that befell our country.

Human life is precious, it needs to be valued at all times. Jesus Christ died for it. Let's look past labels and see people with the mind of Christ.

No to Xenophobia.

Pastor Lulamile Sifuba

@LulamileSifuba

Change Bible Church, Daveyton