Monday, December 22, 2008

This Christmas could be different! - by Seth Naicker

During this time of advent, a season of cheer and joy, there are people who do not have much in economic standings or bank balances to be cheerful or joyful about. Such people can be located in the most developed of countries as well as within the most developing countries of our 21st century world.

The economic meltdown as recognized following the crash on Wall Street has had global effect. People are living in the aftermath of what is best described as, “best as they can.” It must be admitted however, while people of various race, class, gender, and religion face economic hardship throughout the world, it is the poorest of the poor who will feel it most.

Some will argue that in times of personal discomfort, it is not easy to acknowledge another’s pain, or the fact that one is better off than thee other. I believe it to be quite natural for you and I to feel our individual and personal pain, thus operating from it as a reference. It is on the other hand possible to recognize that even within one’s individual and personal pain or discomfort; there are those who are less fortunate and in greater distress. If we allow our personal and individual reference to become our preference of understanding the world, we are choosing to recognize our personal hardship and deny the reality of those who have less.

Bishop Tutu in “No future without forgiveness”, points out that while South Africa was in the midst of celebrating our victory over Apartheid, and the beginnings of our new democracy, we displayed a total inaction and silence to our brothers and sisters suffering through the horrendous Rwandan genocide. Bishop Tutu’s voice must be harkened in our current day South Africa as it relates to our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters. During this festive season while gathering with family and friends may we have awareness and a concern for those who are less fortunate and people who in dire strait circumstances.

In these times of excessive shopping, times of carol singing, or times of sharing of gifts, may we be mindful of the blessings we have. May we be practical and exemplary in ensuring that from the little or the much that we have, we will seek to be a blessing to people around us.

I was most inspired by my parents who in their limits and within their own financial burdens, where able to rally together with my siblings and a couple from the states to organize and facilitate a Christmas party for about 450 children from a community on South side Johannesburg. My parents hope to continue running programs and initiatives within this community in partnership with local businesses, local churches, community members, local schools etc., which will ensure the healthy development of young people, their families and their community.

A coming together of people from diverse backgrounds may provide the inspiration required to stimulate community based initiatives and programs, which may start during this season but continue beyond. Because this Christmas we desire our existence to be bound up in our brother and sister’s calamity.

During this Christmas season may the spirit of the holidays be lived out by people of faith who will proclaim the love and mercy of God in tangible and practical ways. In ways that will encompass our heads and hearts, our minds and feet, our words and deeds, and most definitely our moneys and our long term commitment!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reconciliation Day ! by Seth Naicker

The 16th of December 2008, marks our South African Day of Reconciliation in our 14th year of democracy. President Nelson Mandela in his speech in 1995 stated:

There are few countries which dedicate a national public holiday to reconciliation. But then there are few nations with our history of enforced division, oppression and sustained conflict. And fewer still, which have undergone such a remarkable transition to reclaim their humanity. We, the people of South Africa, have made a decisive and irreversible break with the past. We have, in real life, declared our shared allegiance to justice, non-racialism and democracy; our yearning for a peaceful and harmonious nation of equals” (MESSAGE BY PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA ON NATIONAL RECONCILIATION DAY 16 December 1995).

There is a remnant that still holds true to the wise words of our honorable Madiba. But today we are in a post romantic era of our South African politics, an era filled with anxiety, anguish and concern about the depth and authenticity of our Reconciliation process.

In my discussions with seasoned leaders and political minds, it has become apparent there is great critic of our current day South Africa where our differences are being utilized as political rhetoric and device to divide us rather than unite us ‘into a source of strength and richness’. It would be most insightful to hear the Father of our Nation Nelson Mandela reflect on our political process thus far, as we draw closer to the 15 years of democracy. I choose to believe that our honorable Nelson Mandela would acknowledge the divisive schemes of politics gone bad, and would reach out to the souls of leaders and consciousness of people to live for a ‘peaceful and harmonious nation of equals’.

Our current political process leading up to our 15th democratic election, is held by some as an exciting, rigorous and competitive election, which will yield a better South Africa for all. There are others who are skeptical and fearful of the signs of the times, as political competition between the African National Congress and Congress of the People intensifies.

It is my hope and prayer that there will be a recommitment, a revitalizing and reviving of our South Africa to remain true to as Nelson Mandela proclaimed in 1995, “The rainbow has come to be the symbol of our nation. We are turning the variety of our languages and cultures, once used to divide us, into a source of strength and richness.”

Reconciliation is worth pursuing at all costs, and I am hopeful for my country as I am for our world, that there are people who are willing to go the distance and take on the pressures and social injustices of our day. DeYoung (2007) explains, “Faith-inspired activists live and practice their faith in ways that do not recognize socially constructed boundaries They strive to transcend race, culture, class, and other artificial limitations” (Living Faith, 2007, p. 139). On this Day of Reconciliation, may we be reminded of transcending the barriers that prevail, pursuing a world that some might say cannot be realized in our ‘here and now’.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Implementing Diversity" -by Seth Naicker

Implementing Diversity (Marilyn Loden, 1996) is a valuable resource and handbook for implementing diversity and building inclusive work place culture, which calls the reader to go beyond just light reading, or even in depth study. It calls the reader to action and pursuit of a ‘….vision that must be fulfilled and a goal that must be accomplished. For those of us who welcome change, it is now time to plot a course that will help assure ultimate success” (Loden, 1996, p.x).

Loden is clearly writing from a visionary standpoint, which in the light of current world circumstances, one may be prone to proclaim that Loden’s visionary call out, has been achieved in the political life of America due to president elect Barack Obama. The Obama factor is symbolic of success, but exclusive and power base cultures of dominance go far beyond race and ethnicity. Therefore as much as diversity is being enhanced in global trends, we must ensure that diversity work is authentic and not just a negotiated settlement of compromise. The work of diversity must go beyond the colorizing game.Diversity implementation must grapple with creating a culture of inclusivity, where diversity reaches the heart, the mind and spirit of people, where the separation gap between the I and the other is continually shrinking.

I have been apart of, seen and witnessed people who are passionate about the implementation of diversity, end up being in conflict and distress with each other, based upon their different approaches to implementing diversity, and a culture of inclusivity. I am of the viewpoint that organizations, people and departments designated or charged by an organization to manage diversity implementation, must seek to work in collaboration with several departments within the organization without always the visible the lead role. Instead the work of managing diversity implementation becomes the work of support and encouragement of people and offices going about implementing diversity in their segmented and unique ways. Diversity implementation is therefore encouraged by casting the vision and allowing people to realize the dream!

Loden (1996) in providing concluding remarks explains,
“It simply means that diversity implementation must become more segmented and experimental as opposed to one-size-fits-all. Instead of benchmarking and reinventing a status quo implementers need the skills, insights, and, at times, the counsel of professional consultants required to customize implementation for the particular needs of their organization and the diverse needs of each segment” (1996, p. 178).
I agree with Loden that implementing diversity cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. I recognize organizations having need for cohesion, but over application of cohesion will ultimately result in the creation of another status quo.

Loden (1996) explains, “Instead of “doing to others as you would have them do unto you,” we must now develop the understanding and empathy required to truly know others. With this greater knowledge, we can then “treat others as they would have us treat them” (1996, p. 179). People and offices who are responsible for managing and directing diversity implementation must seek to treat others as they would have you treat them, especially in allowing autonomy and a diversity of approaches to achieving organizational cultural change.

Take an office like Human Resources for e.g., which may be responsible for tracking diversity learning and the creation of a culture of inclusivity within an organization, they should seek to capture different efforts at different strata in the organization. The key is to bring these segmented efforts together by drafting and capturing a segmented approach that ultimately mobilizes and demonstrates how the implementation of diversity and change in organizational culture is taking place, through individual efforts which affect a communal purpose.

In words of Teton Sioux, " ...I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself," (Native American Wisdom, Running Press, p. 51), I am mindful about going about the work of implementing diversity in the spirit of remembering where it is that I come from, and choosing to embrace and live for the inclusivity and diversity, justice and reconciliation, where ever it is that I will go!

Blessings and 'alutta continua', "la lucha continua," the struggle continues. Shalom, Shanti, La Paz sea contigo, As-Salamu'Alaykum - Peace be upon you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Requiring responsible political leadership in South Africa's electoral process- by Seth Naicker

While the USA gets ready to inaugurate their first African American president, South Africa is bracing herself for her 4th national democratic election. It is most troubling to see and hear account of the political process thus far, where African National Congress (ANC) supporters, are taking mass action by disrupting the political campaigning of opposition party Congress of the People (COPE) led by Monsuioa Lekota-a former member of the ANC.

It is my hope that ANC leadership will respond decisively and call for ANC supporters to be mindful of our South Africa being a democratic country, where people have a right to share their political views and ideas, even if it is bringing harsh critique to the ANC. Mr.

Jacob Zuma (who is projected to be the next president of South Africa if the ANC wins the national election) has spoken out against activists but must do so consistently, and cannot together with other senior ANC leaders remain inactive-hiding behind a defense that explains 'people cannot be controlled because former ANC leaders are "rubbishing the ANC"'. Bishop Tutu has in his prophetic voice made harsh critique of the ANC and even Thabo Mbeki during his leadership, but no such mass action was enacted or condoned.

South Africa must call for ANC leadership to resist playing political games and standing back in silence when ANC supporters who are clearly Zuma loyalists, are acting in the name of the ANC, and diminishing the time honored practices of an equality for all-inclusiveness ethos and upholding of peoples right to choice, which has been apart of the historic culture of the ANC. People who are acting as Zuma loyalists should gather under a banner that divorces Zuma fanatics from the ANC, for the ANC has never existed based on one personality.

It is my hope that our political process in South Africa, will be open to a fair and free electoral process that honours people's rights to share their political views and ideas without restriction. It is my hope that our leadership will act out of a concern for all our people, pursuing a path of political competition that is transparent, fair and free. It is my hope that people who are Zuma loyalists will refrain and stop proclaiming death threats and their willingness to act violently if Jacob Zuma is not successful in becoming our next president of South Africa.

May our history of oppression, colonialism and slavery remind us that we cannot allow power to corrupt us further when we claim to have achieved democracy.

As Obama was elected through the people's vote, may the people's vote count for the election of our ruling political party and the confirmation of our 4th democratically elected president.
Viva a democratic South Africa for all, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, people of all backgrounds-race, class, gender and religion.

Blessings and 'alutta continua', "la lucha continua," the struggle continues.Shalom, Shanti, La Paz sea contigo, As-Salamu'Alaykum - Peace be upon you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Realizing "The Beloved Community" by Seth Naicker

We are blessed to witness this most historic moment. The world celebrates at the realization of president elect Barack Obama.

In some ways we are tasting and realizing a glimpse of 'The Beloved Community'. May the momentum of this auspicious moment encourage leaders and people throughout the world to be the change we seek in our world's arrange.

May we as fellow children of God join along in confessing "Yes we can", but may our confession lead us to action, living out our faith and living for the prophetic 'here and now' as well as the future of 'Realizing the dream' and being the 'The Beloved Community.'
Blessings and 'alutta continua', "la lucha continua," the struggle continues.
Shalom, Shanti, La Paz sea contigo, As-Salamu'Alaykum - Peace be upon you!