• June 3rd, 2020

To embrace our neighbour

Rev. Jan A Scholtz

As we continue to look at our Vision 2030 together, I want us to look at how we can address some of the divisions that baffles us at times. 

Sometimes we have to remove the mask and accept that as a society (nation), we are often guilty of the sin of racism. We prefer our own ethnic groups to the exclusion of others and we live with suspicion against each other. Unless we are able to be humble and strong enough to accept that, in fact we have a problem then we will not move anywhere as a nation/society. 
It is also important to accept our part of the problem. It is not only the other person who has a problem. This is a collective sin that we must all be repentant of.

In the Bible, Jesus also addressed some very critical issues concerning human relations. There existed a long feud between the Jews and the Samaritans that led to a face-off between the two ethnic groups. One of the major critical issues that the text addresses is that of stereotyping people.  In the eyes of the Jews, Samaritans could not be expected to do anything good. For Jews, the Samaritans were the ones who would cause trouble and not show compassion (Luke 10:25-37).

Stereotyping people can blind us to their potential and their good gifts. Stereotypes are a social construct. We are not born with these attitudes, believing that some people are inferior to us. People over time start developing unhealthy attitudes to each other to the point where they start believing ill against each other.  Initially such stereotype seems harmless. For example, one may believe that people of a certain ethnic group are lazy or loud or whatever other seemingly innocent label.  

Children imitate 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 do not allow them to be who they are? And what are the dangers of such stereotyping? According to The Namibian edition of 8 April 2019, during the period from 2008 over to 2015 and recently in 2019, there was a wave of attacks across South Africa, specifically on the refugees and migrants. 

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.  One of the things we have to deal with today is how to co-exist with people of different nationalities who live in our countries. At a time when there is a lot of travel, where there are many immigrants in our countries, and where there are many asylum seekers, the question is how we live alongside one another.  In many of our countries whenever there is crime the first people to be suspected are those who are the foreigner amongst us. One of the most haunting questions which are even Biblical for our times is “Who is My Neighbor?” But it is not enough to just know who the neighbor is, or to put people in categories of our choices, we also need to find ways to live with our neighbours irrespective of their colour or where they come from. *Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of Diploma in Theology, B-Theo (SA), a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA), BA(HED) from UNISA. This article is written in his personal capacity.

New Era Reporter
2019-04-24 09:31:15 | 1 years ago

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