One of our afternoons in Johannesburg we went out to the Univeristy of Pretoria to listen to presentations by Peter Merring, a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Maake Msango, a theologian, minister, and activist.
They spent a couple hours talking about the struggle for human dignity and freedom during the apartheid era in South Africa. They spoke of the emergence of democracy and the process of reconciliation following such an evil and tragic era. We were given insight into the complexity of a nation seeking to come out of such injustice and pain. We were impressed by their courage in choosing to stand for God's justice when their lives were risked in the process. Maake spoke of having to hide the manuscripts of his sermons in the ceiling of the church so that would not be discovered, which would have lead to, at best, imprisonment.
One of the comments that I found particularly meaningful was this:
"Pain is. What are we going to do about it?
Benefit form it? Ignore it? Cause it?
Or will we: Advocate? Educate? Heal? Reconcile?"
No matter where we live or in what time we live "pain is." Injustice will always exist. The question for us is what are we going to do about it?
We certainly don't want to cause it! But are we okay benefitting from it? I may not be the one paying unjust wages to workers working too many hours in unsafe conditions, but I might happily benefit from the cheap goods that are produced from it and sold in our megastores.
We certainly don't want to cause it! But are we comfortable ignoring it? I may not make the laws that unjustly push the immigrant from among us and I may not like what it happening, but I might happily go about my life not having to deal with it.
Do we have a gospel robust enough to place a demand upon us to do something about that pain?