This article is part of our Stories of Hope series where we showcase ordinary citizens putting their values in action after the protests and unrest of July 2021. Share your story with us by sending a WhatsApp to 063 314 5178 or emailing our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's been rough watching the images of looting, and vandalism over the last few days in our beloved South Africa.
Irregular actions and unethical and manipulative behaviour instigated what spiralled into the tragic realities we have witnessed in deep sadness.
We are a country that bears many burdens and we must acknowledge the historical and current divides for a large majority who live in stark poverty. We must also listen empathetically to people who have not looted but who soberly share with us "If it had not been for having access to earnings or making an income I too unfortunately may have joined in the looting."
In "seeking to understand before being understood" we must ask, listen and keep listening as people share their pain, disappointments and traumas about a freedom that means little or nothing when they don't even have the means to meet their basic needs.
A hopeful proclamation
In response, we who know the importance of values-based thinking and leadership must arise with courageous compassion, consciousness and an unyielding desire to pursue the reality of beloved community. We pursue that vision and hopeful proclamation when we embrace acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.
This Micah 6:8 text challenges us to be people of restraint in our thinking, talking and acting. We refuse to rationalise the taking of lives, disregarding of human dignity and militant looting. We acknowledge complex realities and challenge those who instigate violence and criminality.
I have been perplexed and deeply troubled. However, from a valued-based approach, and understanding the revolutionary power of story, I begin by asking critical questions. I then enter into the practice of empathetic, compassionate and non-judgemental listening.
This allows me to then, and only then, in a posture of waiting, lamenting and faith emerge to speak a tough-love proclamation and to courageously mobilize and invite acts of kindness.
We who uphold unity and equality and who desire a just and brighter future for all, are called to arise in such a time as this! We arise from the trauma, torching and tragedies that have befallen us with a stubborn love, a determined hope, and a fierce faith to heal our land and realise peace.
Seth is a pastor, Heartlines facilitator and leadership consultant. He is passionate about investing in communities and has spent many years working to serve people around him.
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