Raising a blended family, brings certain perks. If I am honest, I love being slightly different, I love going to the shops and seeing that double take on a stranger’s face when they see me and then they see one of my brown people. I say “my brown people” because my son refers to people of similar colour that way, and seeing as he is mine, so are they.
I like thinking I am part of a solution, I like to think I am creating a bridge between pink and brown. I like to think my son’s and daughter will be better positioned because colour won’t matter to them, it won’t feature in their thought processes, it won’t inform their value judgements or influence their opinions. BUT, am I foolish in believing this, because it will matter to YOU?
My Father loves a brown woman, I love a 2 beautiful brown children. I also love my blonde hair blue eyed son, the love is the same. It doesn’t find itself categorised by colour, ethnicity or past. It is not informed by economic empowerment or political correctness. But I know YOUR love might be. So how do my children reconcile what they experience at home with what they might see outside?
I like to think I have a unique position because I need unity, I need reconciliation, I need healing in this country because I have children that will need to live here, and I will need to help them navigate a life that carries with it challenges that will depend on nothing else but the colour of their skin.
We read in John 15:13 that we can have no greater love than the love that causes us to lay down our own life for a friend. This is an extremely high bar for many, friend or not, and demands that at the forefront of our minds is an uncontrollable love for someone else.
I realise that we have many hurdles in South Africa, many challenges to overcome. They are serious and require introspection, action and they might be dealt with in a way that begs the question “Is this fair?”. Often I believe the answer will be “NO”!
I listened to a radio show last week where the host used clever speech to negotiate his way around the issue of land redistribution. Whether his position was this or not, for me it came across that he had a different understanding of “Fair” than I did. He proposed that essentially punishing someone who perhaps unknowingly benefitted from someone else’s unfair actions, was actually fair. The conversation circled around land being given back from people who legally attained ownership from those who illegally attained ownership, and now it was proposed, to be fair, it should be given back. To be honest, the tone of the conversation and the manner in which the dialogue was guided made me ill, so I turned the program off. Perhaps I missed some amazing conclusion that would have changed my opinions.
But I had heard enough! We can contort the meaning of fair to our hearts desire, but at the end of the day, I see two potential victims and not one. In South Africa, if we take a position to correct the imbalances by moving the goal posts so that what was wrong then is now right, provided our goal is correcting imbalances unfairly caused in the past, we will suffer. Without first finding unity of heart and a desire to love my brother fuelling my actions, I can’t see unity being achieved or the evils of the past being corrected. Most of all, I fear my sons will grow in a country that needs to seesaw back and forth until equilibrium is reached. I am concerned that if we don’t have changed hearts, we will have innocent people paying for past hurts in a way that will not bring unity, closure and certainly will polarise races even more.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know I want my children to embrace their differences, love the differences of others, serve others, protect and love others and be people that will lay their lives down, living simply so that other’s may simply live. I see a country where there is such great hope and possibility, but that we must navigate our way forward from a place of renewed hearts and a genuine desire to love and know each other, rather than from a place that is hard and bitter towards my brother, seeing my forward movement as a punishment for someone else’s past sins.
Make no mistake, we will need to “lose” so that others can “win”, understanding that what may be right for now may also be unfair, but both sides need a heart renewal and a deep appreciation for the other, otherwise we won’t see unity and this divided house will fall.