Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A painful picture

Today for the first time in a long time I was far from being proud of my country. In fact I was maybe –dare I say- disappointed and embarrassed by it. As I write that I’m crying. Crying for my country, crying for my friends and crying for a generation that seems to be unchanged by our histories experiences and challenges.

The past few days have been a painful picture of the reality of an apartheid south Africa infused into what should be a free south Africa. I watched as a good friend of mine was treated differently to me because he was black. He was treated like an uneducated criminal. No racist comments were made but even in the silence, I, an outsider in the conversation saw the grenades that were hurtled across the room. Grenades of inequality and separation. Grenades that our grandparents handed to us proudly. I wanted to fight. I wanted to shout. But I waited for my friend to throw the first punch. He didn’t. Not even one comment. Just a quite smile, hiding the brokenness.

This morning a man walked into the office. Reeking of life on the streets and a few nights drowned out by alcohol this man rattled off his story. The usual. “My mother is sick, I have been robbed, I need money and food.” My answer also the usual. “Sir there is a soup kitchen up the road, please head up there to get some food.” The response I got was one that made me want to once again throw punches. This man, a homeless hitch hiker, desperate for food and clothes, so caught up in his anger and prejudice that even in his weakest moment he wouldn’t go to eat at the soup kitchen because the people around him didn’t look like him.
His grenades were hard and direct. He spat angry lines like a machine gun out to hurt and destroy. I had never seen anger like I saw in the eyes of that man. I was about to ask him to leave the office when a colleague of mine walked in. She is black. He got up. Looked at me in the eye and hissed more lies and anger at me and walked out.

I was broken. Shaken to the core. Mostly because this man is a part of the country that I am supposed to be so proud of. My country a place where diversity is celebrated but a place filled with people who are proudly passing that kind of destructive behavior on to their children. I am proud of my country. Proud of the people that have fought for its freedom and the equality of EVERYONE. But I saw these past few days how people are holding onto a destructive past. Some people are holding on silently. Others are shouting it. They are passing grenades down to their children.
That is not the country that I am proud of. In those moments I was ashamed that we had let our history seep into today’s thinking.
When will it stop..
Well, it stops with me. I choose not to let racism and hatred be apart of who I am. I choose to fight for equality, justice and freedom. I choose to fight for my beautiful country.
I choose Jesus. A man who see's no colour, class or race. A man who's life was about love and justice.

1 comment:

  1. this post is amazing Lauren - really touched my heart! I hope others see this post and learn from it, the lessons that you are teaching are great x