Over Easter weekend our South African society has yet another dark
cloud hanging over her. With the murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche, the race relations in SA
are being strained again. The
right-wing organization the AWB voiced their opinion that the slaying of their
leader is a “declaration of war” by blacks on whites and promised retaliation
(a statement that they retracted yesterday).
While the country is under this cloud, followers of Jesus celebrated
the death and resurrection of the Prince of peace (you can read Idelette's thoughts here, and Cobus's here, Steve's here, Tinyiko Sam Maluleke's here).
Our remembrance of death and resurrection has to become
pertinent on the race relations in South African society. A choice not to do this would make a
mockery out of the weekend’s celebrations.
More than ever I believe that we have to seek for an embodied deep
reconciliation. I use those three
For followers of Jesus an embodied response to our country’s situation
is essential – we simply have to move beyond the important phase of
conversation about reconciliation in homogenuous groups towards conversation
with someone of another race.
Listening to leaders debating reconciliation can be helpful but it can
never be a substitute for building relationships ourselves. Embodiment take place when our
friendships become diverse. Do I
have friends that are different from me?
I use the word “deep”
in the sentence above because friendship terminology has been corrupted. Facebook has helped with that, clichés
too. Everyone is everyone’s
“friend” these days. The “deep”
modifies our concepts of embodiment as well as that of reconciliation. In the book “Being white” the authors
describe the phases leading to a just community. They describe it as:
- 1. Encounter. “ …
choosing to enter into a relationship with another person”.
- 2. Friendship.
“Friendship will teach us a lot, and it will help us open our heart. But it won’t change society, and it
won’t correct racism. It may leave
us still not understanding how racism functions on a structural level.”
- 3. Displacement.
“becoming a student of non-white cultures” “The white person begins to form a new white
identity, strong enough to face the truth about white history and current
reality, and positive enough to experience godly redemption of herself and
other white people”.
- 4. Just Community. “
… use privilege, to spend power on behalf of others …”
These stages reflect a general movement towards something that is a
deeper embodiment of reconciliation.
As a white South African I urge my fellow South Africans to engage in a process of an embodied deep
reconciliation. It will take time. It will be hard. We can’t jump from stage 1 to 4 in a
weekend! Yet we need wild spaces
where people are actively engaging each other.
In his brilliant book on the resurrection Tom Wright advises
followers of Jesus who came through Lent to harness the creative impulses of
resurrection. He writes that,
“The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be
a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture,
something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.”
Richard Rohr said that, “To believe in Resurrection means to cross and
I want to live into a deeper embodied reconciliation … I believe in resurrection …
PS> One of the practical steps I’m undertaking is to study the
Belhar confession with some friends … what are some other practical embodied
responses you can think of? What do you think of the stages?
reconciliation is described by (“Linking arms, Linking lives” Sider 2009) as a movement beyond just sharing space together,
the term denotes reconciliation that is “something else than Band-Aid remedies
of Christian niceties”.