In South Africa (and many other countries in the world), we have become desensitized to stories of violence, especially against women and children. For many of us, another story, another name, quickly becomes part of the statistic. In a few weeks, the name Tshegofatso Pule, a pregnant mother who was recently stabbed and hanged to a tree, will not be ringing a bell anymore.
And I can understand why. Firstly, because many of us feel powerless to make any practical and significant change. The mountain just seems too steep. Also, we tend to distance ourselves from something personal. If we had to feel… really feel… the weight of every case of violence against another mother or child, we might just go crazy.
There is a danger, though. Our mechanisms to protect our own sanity, may lead to indifference. And indifference is a silent killer.
So what can we do? What should we do?
To start with; if you are a man, make sure that your heart, and your house, is a safe place. A place where women and children can feel safe. If you grew up with any notion or misconception about your role as a man, that you have to be the ‘strong’ one, or the ‘enforcer’; confront those lies with the truth it deserves. If you have trauma or issues that you need to work through, do the work that the people around you desperately need.
If you have done the work to make your own heart a safe place, make the commitment to do the same for other men and boys. If your own children are safe and your boys are raised to love and respect others, be on the lookout for men and boys where you can make a lasting difference. The statistics don’t lie. Many boys grow up without good male role models. Some boys are raised by their own sisters, or grandmothers. If all of us make the decision to love and mentor one boy or young man that is not our own, society will be so much better for it.
Lastly, we have to look at the soil where we sow. If the society that we are a part of, has systemic ills, we should do what we can to help change the soil. It seems like a massive task…and it is. But if a big chunk of society has the will the make their hands dirty, we can make a difference to the growth that we will see in the future.
The kingdom of God doesn’t need superheroes. It needs faithful servants. Imagine the change we wish to see; it is possible.