God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Some reflections on racism

Traveling the world and especially the USA one can’t escape the question of racism, let alone coming from South Africa were the question of race seems to be connected to all questions of life and seemingly influencing every decision made in this country.
I guess we all agree that there is only one human race and that the differentiation into human races was and is a political and social tool to suppress or discriminate or even dehumanize people of certain skin colors – or in our days especially in South Africa, hold them accountable for past or present discrimination.
Not seeing this is in itself racist – and even if it is tempting to claim for oneself to not seeing the colour of a person – it somehow denies people of colour the inherited history and emotions attached to their lives till today.
Racism is part of what we are born into – it is what theologian would call original sin or structural sin; for example: As a white European person – I am born into a world with certain privileges – I inherit certain implicitness without being guilty of anything. But I have to deal with it – and in a time of social media, of constant exposure of racist incidents it seems to be one of the Sisyphusian task of our generation.

But how do you address it? How do you address the discrimination of generations of people, of whole societies, of whole groups within a country, of a whole continent – how do you remedy the disadvantages and horrible consequences for the lives of whole generations?

Unfortunately you actually can’t make it good again – you can only try to compensate the living but it has to be done in a way not creating new hardships and injustices. And it sounds like squaring the circle. For it to happen I guess the following must be in place:

* The ability and willingness to recognize and to acknowledge the past and the present problem of “racism” and its consequences
* To recognize the “racist” in me
* To recognize that the marginalized group must find back the freedom and pride to be – I am sure the black conscience theory of Steve Biko can be of great help
* To listen to each other in really hearing the stories of each other – to try to walk in the shoes of each other for a while to understand without discussion and debate – just hearing what is said and feeling the pain, the desperation, the hope and the aspiration
* To find common ground in redressing the injustices without creating hardship and obvious new injustices
* To find forgiveness, because the burden of the past, which never should be forgotten, can only be accepted if and when forgiveness is given and accepted on all sides
* To give your all into the efforts of walking together, being patient with each other but determined to overcome and learn out of the past

Only on this base we can strive to overcome the past and to create a future which accepts a non-racist society where new words, a new language is expression of a new sibling-like relationship where indeed skin colour does not predetermine your place in society.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Know your history

Travel time is not only time to connect with people, but the seemingly endless time in a plane is also an excellent time to read – to be able to undisturbed venture into interesting fields of curiosity as well as beefing up knowledge on the working environment. As I live in South Africa, it is indeed interesting to dig into the history of this magnificent country but also the so-called heroes of the struggle, so often quoted at political or social events, at demonstrations and public outbursts of frustrations and lack of service delivery.
Especially students love to quote their heroes like Steve Biko or Chris Hani; often they even see themselves as the qualified successors of those being killed during the struggle or directly thereafter in the chaos before the first democratic elections.
Reading about the two just mentioned I realize how much our youth in South Africa would be able to learn from them, if and when they would take the time out to study them – to really understand their struggle credentials and their thoughts about a South Africa, free of racism, corruption and nepotism – and free of the entitlement seemingly earned as a result of often a false historical narrative of the ruling party – leaving out the essence of real struggle – the internal struggle, the dreams and aspirations hard-worked for in times of hardship and discrimination.

How much easier would be to deal with questions of land reform, of free education, of racism and obviously with it on all other pressing issues –  if before using the buzzword decolonization and so-called radical economic transformation a part of shown energy would focus on learning from the struggle heroes how to seriously deal with the injustices of the past. But this would mean also to open up to the part of the struggle history which isn’t pretty but ugly and which does not fit into the narrative of some veterans.

The example of Zimbabwe and its struggle to rid itself from uncle Bob shows how difficult it is to maneuver through complicated matters if one does not honestly face the truth and reality of the presence and the past. The nepotism and corruption within the South African political elite shows what all can go wrong if one bends and distorts history and sell it to the next generation as the truth. It seems no society is willing to learn on the long run – it’s a pity because at the end it betrays the revolution and liberation people fought hard for and a lot ultimately died for. And it betrays those hoping for a better life now, promised again and again and often failing to appear in their lifetimes.

And one does not need to sit in an plane to have time to read – the libraries established all over the country give enough material and any quiet summer night will do to read and learn – for the better good of our society. And a knowledgeable society becomes automatically also a more healthy society – and that is what we all should strive for – healthy physically and mentally which is inter-connected as we all know.

Filed under: Africa, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
3 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
10 months to go.
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