Monday, February 15, 2010

Reconciliation: No simple answers to complex situations

Reconciliation a word, a verb, a ministry, an action, an ideal. I am passionate about doing the work of reconciliation. As much as I have some understanding I am still learning about the length and breadth of this God ordained agenda of Reconciliation. Let us consider together "reconciliation," as a ministry, a theology and a way of life, where there are no simple answers to complex situations.

I find that reconciliation as a focus of our way of being within the realm of living faith, or living out our faith, needs to be defined and extended much further than the lines upon which races are divided, this may be a priority of the social disparity and the cause of much pain within society, but reconciliation must not and cannot be limited to the discussion and the concern for racial reconciliation alone!

There are many a social discord that is racial, but is also religious, cultural, socio-economic, class based, abilities based, gender based etc. The work and ministry of reconciliation must be so defined that reconciliation provides a framework that allows for our people: meaning our parents, our elders, our children and youth, and future generations to be able to grapple with this broad based definition of reconciliation.

For the purposes of an example, and to be transparent and authentic about my concern, I have found too many white people excited about having their, in USA wide terms- ‘persons of color'- friends, who they are willing to reconcile too and with, and even tolerate, but there is limitation concerning their ability to wrestle with the historic social injustice and social realities. The reality that under pins racism and the related matters concerning power and privilege etc, and moving from accepting an individual to accepting a community, is some how excluded from understanding reconciliation and embracing ‘authentic reconciliation.

On the other hand, I have noted persons of color, who have bought into becoming co-opted into a system of whiteness, instead of these persons of color being voices for and of the marginalized, we see people who play the system wide recognized social reality of bicultural operative-ness. They do the shuck and jive or the duck and dive, they do the divisive, detrimental, and demeaning dance, where everything is premised upon succeeding within the confines of a system, and very little thought is committed to transforming the system. If reconciliation is ‘watered down’ like this, we may as well just call it a work or ministry of 'weak reconciliation.’

I am not blinded to work of white persons, and persons of color who are seeking to make positive change, but I do believe that there must be a freedom of people's minds concerning their consciousness and their image of self. If people continue to operate in a world where whiteness is the standard then we will never be able to combat the matters of racial and other disparities on an equal playing field.

In my personal journey I was born into a society plagued by legalized racism through the governance of Apartheid, within South Africa. I have been immersed in a racialized society, from birth and even within a post Apartheid era, it is my work to un-work the mechanisms of ‘brain wash’, where white was categorized as superior. This ‘un-working’ process is the tough work of introspection and reckoning with my self concept that I must commit daily, as I journey seeking to live free of labels and stereotypes, and more especially a system that enthrones whiteness. I must, and we must together, consider that the great equalizer is the consciousness that we are created in God's image, and this fact must propel the mindset that 'I am not more than any one, I am not less than any one, and that my bank balance should not dictate my confidence and my belief in who I am!’

We must wrestle with the issue of consciousness and how much of whom we are is based on the social construct of whiteness, yet there is much greater diversity to which we are, where we come from, and our heritage. When we can grapple together with the hypocrisy and social evil of racism, religious intolerance, homophobia etc., without the time wasting process of an internal need to defend, we may arrive at a place of utter, complete and bold courage to do the sacrificial work of reconciliation: that calls us to lay down our right, to be willing to stand in the tension, and even be beaten and sworn at: like Gandhi, like Martin Luther King Jnr., like Malcolm X, like Steven Biko, like Roberta Menchu, like Nelson Mandela, and like Jesus Christ.

I believe that our world is in a season when authentic reconciliation can take place. We should seize the moment, to really get deep with this practice, ideology, theology and God's highest agenda "Reconciliation.” let’s stop beating around the bush and go deep with this work and ministry of coming together. In the words of Mother Teresa, we have the opportunity to 'make something beautiful for God.' May God give us the strength to deal with the complexity of life and the reality that 'there are no simple answers to complex situations!"

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