Heart needs hope

2015-11-03 06:00

I sit with a heavy heart at what has been going on the past few weeks in Masiphumelele and the surrounding communities. When the first scene opened up and the community asked for better policing, we all agreed. And the request was heard. In fact, we have never seen so many police in one place in the history of the southern peninsula.

Then people started being hunted down and burnt alive. Rocks and petrol bombs were thrown, cars and boats set light and houses burnt to the ground.

Thousands of lives have been negatively affected by these actions – not just in Masiphumelele, but in all the surrounding areas as well. Children are traumatised, breadwinner mothers lost their jobs, businesses were closed down and so were schools. We will only see the real damage early next year when people go to bed hungry and are unable to buy schoolclothes.

Sooner or later we are going to have to “fix things up again”, but I have noticed two problems:

Firstly, what people say. Two thousand years ago a man named James made a comparison between the tongue and a small spark that had the ability to set a great forest on fire. Every day I hear of people spewing hatred and lies on social media. The effects of the rumours and uninformed theories of what is going on, are going to be around for many more years. In some cases it is plain irresponsible. The law is undermined when well-meaning people take the side of an alleged criminal. We can never condone brutal killings, no matter what the cause is. All of our children, from all races, cultures and religions look on and learn. Our words tell them that such behaviour is okay.

Secondly, what people do not say. It is tragic for me to notice that no loud positive voice has risen above the noise. I long to see pastors and religious leaders stand up and speak hope. In fairness, I am not on social media, so might have missed all the dialogue. But I believe that what we need more than ever are leaders who go against the grain of the usual angry rhetoric. I have yet to hear anything meaningful from a single politician.

It is not helpful when individuals politicise these matters. It is equally not helpful if we simply blame everyone else. But this is mostly what I am hearing or seeing wherever I go.

What we desperately need now are individuals from all parts of the southern peninsula to get together and, with a clear mind, work at creating an environment where all of us will benefit.

It is not just Masiphumelele that needs to be restored; we must include the businesses and communities around us as well.

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