Why violence in one place and peaceful co-existence in another? Why animosity in one place and forgiveness in another?
What determines the difference? How does it happen?
When I lived in Africa in the 1980s, the general consensus was that there was no way whatsoever that South Africa would evolve beyond apartheid without violence.
I remember the poignant feeling I had when I read July's People by South African author, Nadine Gordimer. July worked for a White South African family. Though Black African himself, he and the White South African family had a very close and loving relationship. His job was to help them escape when the time came.
But the projected worst case never happened. How did the shift happen? Truth and reconciliation. Forgiveness.
It's difficult enough for one human to truly forgive another. Indeed and for sure!
And ultimately, while forgiveness, surrender, reconciliation all happen one heart and one mind at a time, we can see that in certain circumstances they can happen for entire societies of people. What happened in South Africa offers us so much possibility...at the level of principle.
South Africa. While I know life's not perfect there, the meteoric societal progress serves as an example of profound human evolution and transformation. It demonstrates our desire for, among other things, tolerant co-existence, mutual respect, and common vision. And even more, it demonstrates our capacity to bring those values and qualities into being in our everyday lives.
It's rather amazing really....
Yet, we allow such a profound social transformation as this one pass by as more or less transitory news news/media events with a sort of 'ho-hum, here today, gone tomorrow' mentality.
[Image is the title of the book by Desmond Tutu]