3 reasons I’m unwilling to stand back and do nothing in this season of our nations history
Edmund Burke once said; “Bad things happen, when good men stand back and do nothing.”
In recent times I’ve been thinking and praying at about one hundred and eighty kilometers per hour, and I’m not sure I’m in fifth gear yet. My thoughts are at high revs around leadership and the state of our nation, and particularly how I — and we — ought to respond in this time where racial tensions are as high as ever, economic pressures are acute, and Tata’s life and legacy feel like a threadbare, well-worn coat that once clothed royalty. I’m passionate about the beautiful vision that is ‘a flourishing South Africa’. Here are 3 reasons why I personally cannot sit back and do nothing at this stage in our nations history:
1. We are presently living in the repercussions of doing nothing for too long. Sure some may say that historically they did something, or at least felt something, but by and large, most people (those with little or much influence) did little to nothing. And with all that in mind, I’m unwilling to perpetuate the problem. I believe that some seasons in history are watershed moments, some are refilling and restarting times, and some are for holding the dam(n) wall together — whatever the cost. If history goes in cycles, and some seasons cost some people more than others, then we must be willing to incur the cost to be the change.
2. My faith compels me. Secondly, my faith in and knowledge of God through Jesus Christ does not let me off the hook with regards to engaging with our situation. For all the problems some may have with my faith and with Christianity in general, you surely cannot fault my Christ. Like no other man in history he brought together cultures, nations and creeds — and continues to do so. Sure, shout at the crusades, but please don’t shout at Jesus Christ. His message, his life, his death, and his actual historical track record (aside from those who misused his name) is faultless in bringing together peoples and nations together around human flourishing — follow the path of gospel movement and find me a nation that has not flourished. Only Jesus’ message and life has the power to melt the heart into a humble yet confident one. A heart willing to learn from those we least expect it from, and to love confidently those we least deserve it from. Only in the gospel are we loved with an undeserving love, and empowered with force-filled backing.
3. A part of me will die, every day that I do nothing. I must do something, anything, so long as it moves me, my heart, my family, and my sphere just one step closer to a better day for South Africa. It may be as simple as becoming an internally more courageous man who can engage more openly. Or maybe by bridging an historical divide through a one on one conversation. Or what about teaching my daughters our national history and owning up to my apathy as a way of inspiring them to more. Or maybe I’ll coach my church congregation through the journey of my hardened and calloused heart becoming ever softer. ‘Doing something’ may simply mean that for a few days I live with a gnawing sense of the need for change; just me, alone with my thoughts, tears, fears, and dreams for our nation. But I cannot go backwards, I cannot stay as I am, my nation needs me to move forward in character and courage.
I hope one day I will be able to sit with influencers in our city and our nation to strategise over how we can change things. But for now, I will not let any part of me die, not at least through apathy, self-pity or ignorance. I will engage, I must engage, no matter how overwhelming it may seem, or how minute my contribution may feel. Yes we have a beautiful nation, with a beautiful history, and filled with beautiful people, but mostly we have a nation that matters, it matters to you, to me, and to most importantly it matters to God.
“Bad things happen, when good men stand back and do nothing.”