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Opinion - The danger of pigeonholes

2021-11-12  Reverend Jan Scholtz

Opinion - The danger of pigeonholes
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As we continue to look at Vision 2030 together, I want us to look at how we can address some of the divisions that baffle us at times. 

Somewhere, we have to remove the mask and accept that, as a society (nation), we are often guilty of sin or racism. We prefer our ethnic groups to the exclusion of others. 

We live with suspicion against each other. 

Unless we can be humble and strong enough to accept that we have a problem, then we will not move anywhere as a nation. We prefer our ethnic groups to the exclusion of others. 

We live with suspicion against each other. 

It is also important to accept our part of the problem. 

It is not only other people who have a problem. This is a collective sin that we must all be repentant of.

The story of the good Samaritan is a model of correct behaviour in many dimensions. 

It is a good illustration of some very critical issues concerning human relations. 

There existed a long feud between the Jews and the Samaritans, which led to a face-off between the Jews and the Samaritans in this way (the two ethnic groups). 

His Jewish listeners would probably have seen him be unpatriotic in presenting a Samaritan in such complimentary terms. 

One of the major critical issues that this text address is that of stereotyping people.

 In the eyes of the Jews, the Samaritans could not be expected to do anything well. 

That is why it must have come as a shock that Jesus presented the nameless Samaritans on such favourable terms. 

For the Jews, the Samaritans were the ones who would cause trouble and not show compassion as in the narrative (Luke 10:25-37).

Stereotyping people can blind us to their potential and their good gifts. 

Stereotypes are a social construct. 

People, over time, start developing unhealthy attitudes toward each other to the point where they start believing ill against each other. 

For example, one may believe people of a certain ethnic group are lazy or loud, or whatever other seemingly innocent label. 

Children irritate their parents, and start thinking their ethnic group is better than another; however, over time, this can lead to social exclusion. 

This is what had happened between the Jews and Samaritans. 

What are some of the ways that we pigeonhole people and don’t allow them to be who they are? And what are the dangers of such stereotyping? 

In 1994, a genocide took place in Rwanda. 

This was an implosion of many years of building walls of hatred between two (2) ethnic groups that are not very distinct from one another – the Hutus and the Tutsis; there was a culture of looking down upon each other, believing that one group was better than the other. 

These feelings and suspicions culminated in outright racism in the public service, in the school system and even in society. 

The result was the tragedy of a nation that massacred itself. 

According to (The Namibian, 8 April 2019), during the period from 2008 over to 2015, 2019 and recently in 2021, there was a wave of attacks across South Africa, specifically on the refugees and immigrants. 

More than 60 people were reported to have been killed and thousands displaced. 

In 2015, there were outbreaks of violence against non-South Africans – mostly in the cities of Durban and Johannesburg. 

The country is a host to millions of foreign nationals. Many of them are economic or political refugees from across Africa, including DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

Our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift. Many people have difficulty giving and receiving love because of hurt and fear. 

Having closed their heart to others, they feel empty and meaningless. 

The Bible is clear about both functions of the heart: the receiving of grace and love inward and then flow outward. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind….Love your neighbour as yourself”  (Matt 22:37-39).

One of the things we have to deal with today is how to co-exist with people of different nationalities/ethnic groups who live in our society/country. 

The question is how we live alongside one another. 

One of the most haunting questions which are even more Biblical for our time is, “Who is my neighbour?” But it is not enough to just know who the neighbour is, or to put people in categories of our choices; we also need to find ways to live with our neighbour, irrespective of their colour or where they come from.

I am reminded of Jesus Christ’s conversation with Peter in Matthews 16:13-20. 

Jesus asks him, “Who do you say I am?” 

As we enter the holiday season, let us hold this question before us: “Who do people say we are?”. 

They learn us only by our acts of love!

2021-11-12  Reverend Jan Scholtz

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