Mar 24, 2014

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MEDITATION: A sad discovery

MEDITATION: A sad discovery

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matthew 5:9)

Negative perceptions and unjust prejudices can blind us to the positive qualities of people.

Also to the deeper motives and dreams which direct their lives.

The grandson of an earlier premier of our country, Wilhelm Verwoerd, recently shared a moving, but sad story in this regard during a workshop on peace.

He told the participants how, as part of his research on the history of non-violent resistance in our country, he went to look in the archives for articles on the life of the former ANC leader, chief Albert Luthuli.

Luthuli who wrote a beautiful book on his own life called “Let my people go” and who also won the Nobelprize for peace in 1961, was a humble and committed Christian believer. He was especially known for his pacifistic views. This view proclaims that any resistance against injustice or violence should always be conducted in a peaceful and non-violent manner – also with respect to the God given dignity of your enemy or oppressor.

Despite resistance in his own party regarding his stance, Luthuli never wavered on this.

To his shock and dismay Wilhelm Verwoerd discovered that, specifically in the circles of the former white government – and this was reflected in their secret files on Luthuli – nothing of Luthuli’s Christian convictions and beliefs seemed to be known, understood or honoured. To the contrary: prejudice and lies constituted their perspective and verdict on Luthuli. In the final instance he was seen and also stigmatised as a communist – someone committed to revolution and violence.

For the young Verwoerd this was a very sad discovery. To quote him: “How different our history could have been if people in power at the time examined and curbed their own prejudices and took the trouble to really get to know this peaceful and remarkable man.”

His words of course still ring true today.Besides, this is also the road on which Christ again calls us during this time of Lent.

Carel Anthonissen

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