What Can I Do?Christy Wheeler
In South Africa today, many would say that our biggest need is for racial, social and economic reconciliation. Poverty, injustice and division are in opposition to God’s Kingdom and his righteousness. They are not what God intends for people whom he created to be his image bearers (Genesis 1:27), whom he loves so much (John 3:16) and for whom he desires “life to the full” (John 10:10). As Christ followers, we are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:9) and to proclaim his Kingdom in word and deed (Luke 9:1-2). We fulfill this call in various ways, including as we act to end poverty and injustice, and as we are people of healing and reconciliation.
We are all on different journeys and dealing with different realities. Here are some ideas that may help you find a next step or two:
Commemorate public holidays with respect.
- Do some research into the history of our various public holidays. Teach your children or share with your small group. Do something other than just relaxing on the day to engage with the historic event being commemorated.
Learn an African language
- Learn how to have a brief but meaningful conversation with someone different to you entirely in their home language
Interrogate the words that you use on a daily basis
- Take time to learn how to pronounce people’s names correctly
- Think about how you reference people when you talk about them eg: “MY domestic worker, or MY gardener, or even MY receptionist”
Uplift communities and support those who do
- Ideas include general ones such as increasing the capacity of community organisations though financial giving, joining boards and offering skills, and volunteering your time.
Engage in dialogue
- Attend/host a Diversity Dinner
- Talk about race, privilege and symbolic violence.
- Explore what white privilege is and what black consciousness is
- Listen more than you speak. Always seek first to understand before being understood
Commit to interrupting racism and prejudice
- Refuse to let racist comments and actions that happen in front of you of go by unaddressed.
- Be brave and call your friends and family on their racism and prejudice. Don’t be complicit.
Examine what God has given you
- You may feel overwhelmed by the injustice around you. Carefully examine what God has given you and how you can use that to journey with others towards more flourishing. this might be time, it might be connections you have, opportunities you can reach etc. What can you do?
Support local businesses
- Do a little research and choose to spend your money in ways that support those whose daily lives (and bread) depend on it.
Honour everyone you meet
- Ensure that every person you meet and interact with are honoured and experience something of the generous love that Jesus has for you.
If you employ people in your home, honestly ask if you are paying a living wage
- If you employ someone 5 days a week, you are either paying for them to live in poverty or you are helping them break the cycle. Be the change
- If you employ someone less than 5 days a week, you can change what you pay them and you can use your influence to get their other employers to follow suit
Show up at a protest, meeting or conversation that doesn’t benefit you
- Don’t be silent on issues that don’t directly relate to you but which hurt other people. Do some research, listen to those protesting and get involved.
Consider where in the city you ‘do life’
- Reflect on where you shop, gym, eat out, church, sport and so on. If we are serious about bringing an end to the systemic and structural lingering violence and consequence of apartheid, then geography [which was used to create so much of the apartheid system] has to be considered. Perhaps even consider what suburb you are moving into.
It’s important to acknowledge that we are all on our own journeys. Some people will be ahead (some you may say are way ahead) of you and others will be behind, far behind. The most important thing is that as Christ-followers, we continue pressing towards Jesus and asking him to show us how to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.