Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering the rythm of our togetherness

For a long time people in our country, we have been able to find far too many reasons for excluding, for keeping things and people apart. We have emphasised almost solely the differences between people. But this has caused devastation as it broke people’s lives into millions of pieces – it caused widespread fragmentation and destruction in our society. Today we want to choose differently – we are seeking a new vision: we are remembering the rhythm of our togetherness.

We come from a beautiful but troubled mother Africa. The gift that we received from this mother of ours is a gift of wholeness, of being one with the whole world. But beyond the good gift, our mother also carries the scars of distortion and fear. She has almost forgotten her dream of ubuntu; her passion has devoured her; she has all but forgotten her beauty.

In traditional African cultures and religions one finds appreciation for community. Harvey Sindima of Malawi says: “The African idea of community refers to bondedness, the act of sharing and living in the one common symbol – life – which enables people to live in communion and communication with each other and with nature”.

How necessary it is in our time to re-find this rhythm of togetherness – of that which needs to be held together rather than be kept apart. Things like body and spirit, male and female, humanity and nature. Drawing strict lines between these things causes pain. We’ve just seen it again being played out in references to the body of a young athlete, one who deserves to be embraced - Caster Semenya.

A biographer writes about Brother Roger, the founder of the Taizé community in France, that he "always thought that Christians would be reconciled by broadening their horizons, by going out to those who differed from themselves, by being open to non-believers, by carrying the preoccupations of those who were in difficulty and by being attentive to the poorest of the poor. It was the vision of reconciliation of the whole of humanity which made the effort of striving for reconciliation between Christians worthwhile".

Surely this gives us an agenda to work for. Like Brother Roger we should have a reconciled world in mind. This means, amongst other things, that peace needs to be made between the sexes and sexual orientations; peace needs to be made between a frustrated Malema-generation of claiming rights and a UDF-generation of non-racialism. Real peace needs to be made when the dangerous rhetoric of “shoot to kill” is doing the rounds as response to a violent society.

We need to piece the fragmented parts of our lives and our world together to bring about the healing which our society desperately yearns for. Perhaps we should start by sharing the stories of spaces where we have encountered or been able to create such healing?

Laurie Gaum

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