A High School Principal’s Spiritual Reflection

Picture: Riedewaan Gaffoor / Facebook
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South Africa needs to rediscover its soul. People of faith need to find their true purpose for living which is loving God and others with the totality of their being. Our humanity is commensurate with our spirituality.

Sin, both personal and structural, separate us from God and our brothers and sisters. Sin causes suffering. Systemic sins such as structural violence, usury and exploitation are internalised by working class people and can lead them to sin in the spirit.

Let us recommit to our loving Heavenly Father and our neighbours with authenticity and sincerity. The two great commandments to love God (Mark 12:30) and neighbour (Leviticus 19:18) should not be grievous unto us as the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Not to love is a sin against God and community.

South Africa needs a spiritual voice to speak out strongly against the god of this age and its followers – money. It is the love of money which drives the ruling class and their supporters in this country. The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Loving money is at the root of greed, corruption, CAPITALISM and exploitation. Some ministers in our Government have unashamedly used the COVID-19 pandemic to enrich themselves. Amidst the pandemics of COVID-19, capitalism, classism, racism and gender-based violence, people of faith have, for the most part, been quiet. The churches, in many instances want to stay out of trouble, but in so doing they bring trouble onto themselves and they create controversy.

We are called to LIFE by our Father in Heaven and as His ambassadors we must be holistic human beings, embracing every facet of life, including education and politics. We cannot be passive bystanders or we run the risk of having a world without God or God without a world which goes completely against the well-known scripture in John 3:16 about God demonstrating His great love for the world that He gave Himself to it by sending His only son to us. God is amongst us in this world, right now, yet we fail to acknowledge or comprehend His presence. We need to evoke His presence (to paraphrase the theologian Karl Rhaner) as we bring light to banish the darkness. For us to be neutral, are we not condoning the sin of capitalism which destroys, brutalises, oppresses and alienates people?

The world is in a crisis of capitalism in which racism, xenophobia, hatred towards our Muslim brethren, violence against women and exploitation of children are gaining ground. Under the heinous system of Apartheid, the various oppressive laws such as the Group Areas Act and the Population Registration Act operated together to oppress and subjugate people. In South Africa today, we have economic Apartheid and a pseudo democracy. A New Unity Movement stalwart referred to our “democracy” as a demockery and little wonder as the Government system today creates and perpetuates poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Our children are condemned to a sub-standard education and millions of people have to make do with an inferior health system.

The events of Marikana on 16 August 2012 epitomises the struggle that workers (the have-nots) wage against the state and its allies (the haves). When workers protest in this country the state responds with power through its Draconian laws. It brings in the army and the police force (literally) and represses people’s voices. The ‘new’ Government has seemingly learnt nothing from the old one in terms of how to respond to a crisis which they created in the first place. The state uses force to uphold the status quo which is inequality as a bottom line.

The state is clearly placing the economy ahead of people and their basic needs. Millions of people do not have a job in the first place. The thousand who are employed are working for slave wages. The economy is no doubt the real reason for the reopening of schools. At the high schools of the poor, teachers face a daunting task attempting to prepare the matriculants for a final examination that was put back only slightly. Most matric teachers also educate the other grades. They will not be able to cope with the sheer numbers of students returning to school. In the context of COVID-19, schools in poor areas do not have the human resources, capacity or space to oversee physical distancing, a non-negotiable for COVID-19.

Education is about people and their needs. It is about empowering people and teaching them to live in solidarity and community. For education to have the desired effects, it has to be well-funded and well-resourced. Our children have to be well-rounded as we prepare them for life having been exposed to gateway subjects such as Pure Mathematics and Physical Science and a holistic, comprehensive extra curricular programme. People’s power is directed against an unjust system where man’s inhumanity to his fellow man is so prevalent. People’s education will foster grassroots democracy where the people shall govern.

We need to give our all to the struggle. The widow at the temple, who gave the two mites gave all that she lived on to God. The woman who broke her alabaster box to anoint Jesus shows us what true love is. The anointing was an outpouring of her love.

Pilgrims and sojourners on this road fraught with danger have to take courage and speak out against wrong-doing and injustice. Believers are not people with all the answers but we should have lots of hope. Dorothee Soelle, the German liberation theologian writes: “Struggle is the source of hope. There is no hope without struggle. There is no hope that drops from Heaven through the intervention of God. Hope lies within the struggle.”

So as we travail longer on planet earth, may we not be lukewarm believers who have forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4). Love is our weapon, it cannot be stopped.

God hears the cry of His people in South Africa. Are we as believers hearing the cry of our brothers and sisters?

“When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”
– Archbishop Romero, San Salvador martyr

Vincent Hendricks
Fellow sojourner on this strange pilgrimage, Citizen of the world, Child of our Heavenly Father.

This article was submitted on 15 August 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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