No ubuntu in ‘I have’ world

2012-04-07 12:21

In a Christian country we have lost sight of the values espoused by Jesus Christ and the moral compass of religion, writes Mmatshilo Motsei.

‘Kunzima sisi. Nam’ I am a Christian, but what can you do ngoba uzobona abantu bavumbuka emuva kwakho ba qhubekela phambili wena soloku ukhamisile.”

This statement is part of a conversation I had with a public official discussing a project that I had to turn down because it came with the condition of a bribe.

I drove off with my car’s petrol light flashing and I had no money. Luckily, I made it home.

I spent a sleepless night trying to work out what to do next. Meantime, a voice that encroached in my thoughts kept asking the question: “Why don’t you say yes and all your troubles will be over.”

This is a question that many face in a country in which revolutionary ethics have been replaced by the politics of the stomach.

Reframing a revolution only in political and material terms, and not so much in higher spiritual emancipation, creates fertile ground for a culture that is driven by the survival of the fittest mentality.

Such an exclusive materialist view of revolution reinforces the practice of accumulation of vast capital for the few as opposed to improving the quality of life for the greatest number of people.

Within such thinking, politics becomes a perfect money-making machine.

A country in which “I am” is defined by “I have” is one in which corruption thrives. For instance, 18 years after the advent of democracy, the Public Protector describes South Africa to be at the tipping point in its battle against endemic corruption.

In less than two decades, values of service that represent one of the foundations of African livelihood have been replaced by self-fulfilment and personal enrichment.Widespread community service delivery protests juxtaposed against increasing prevalence of corruption among those charged with a duty to serve is a case in point.

In cases of ethical or moral dilemmas, many people look to religion for answers.

Religion is used here as a set of beliefs and rituals upon which a code of ethics is based.For many South Africans, religion provides a moral compass.

Unfortunately, just like in politics, God tends to be theologically distanced from people’s day-to-day living instead of being present in every thought and action.

According to census figures, about 80% of South Africans are of the Christian faith.

This includes many of the leaders in politics, business and civil society.

It is beyond the scope of this article to outline the evolution of Christian religion in Africa.Given such a limitation, the article will concentrate on casting light and asking questions around the potential for transformation in a country in which the majority are Christians.

This weekend, many will converge in different places to commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The main object of the commemoration is to celebrate God’s love for humanity. The beliefs and rituals of Christians are based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

As a teacher, Jesus was bold enough to publicly refer to religious elders and chief priests as hypocrites, blind guides and vipers.

As if this was not enough, he advocated for the rights of women, overturned tables of fraudulent money launderers, and he busted crime and corruption.

Not only did he function as an advocate for justice, he healed the sick and raised the dead. As a leader, Jesus led as a servant. A servant leader is one who elevates the interests of his followers beyond his own interest for the good of the collective.

This is similar to ubuntu leadership, which requires that all people living in a society must conform to truth and justice – not because of fear of the consequences, but because of an understanding that their survival is dependent on the survival of others.

The state of the nation is one of corruption, crime, poverty, lack of service delivery as well as blatant disrespect for fundamental human freedoms.

If there are so many South Africans who are Christians, why is it difficult for them to be like Christ?

More than 2 000 years after the crucifixion, multitudes still operate from sin consciousness even when it is said in Romans 8:1-2 that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”.

Judging from the state of the nation, we remain locked in the limitations of the ego, which falsely believes that it is separated from God. Instead of being one with Christ, we are gobsmacked by his miracles and in the process we make him a hero and a celebrity whose power we perceive to be inaccessible and external to us.

Even as he says, “greater things than these, you shall do”, we fail to internalise his power as our own.

Jesus’s crucifixion symbolises death of the ego. The Second Coming is therefore not based on a singular being returning to the earth realm, but on people waking up to the consciousness of ageless wisdom that teaches us that all of life is joined together by a universal life force.In this sense, an injury to one is an injury to all.

Is it possible to love our neighbour if we do not love ourselves? What is the use of being born again if we believe in using any means, which includes witchcraft, to bring our enemies down?

How do we preach “thou shalt not kill” while we allow our hunger for power, positions and possessions to poison our duty to care for the soul of the nation? It is time to face our death to old beliefs and thoughts.

Rising from death is being free from the limitation of the mind.In his teachings, Christ said: “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added to you.”

The kingdom of heaven is not an after-death destination but a place of higher consciousness in the now. Awakening to the conscious self occurs away from the masses in the privacy of our minds.

It is a freedom that is not dependent on slogans and mass action, but on the conversations that we have with ourselves when no one is listening. Waking up to this consciousness is not about going to church every Sunday.

It is also not about the number of followers we have or the miraculous power of our healing rituals.

It is about seeking and maintaining direct alignment with the one who is in you and all of creation.

» Motsei is an author based in White River, Mpumalanga 

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