Hope, courage and forgiveness

TMAAT December 23, 2013

In the late sixties as a young man I worked as a trainee in Johannesburg, South Africa. Being Dutch I had the advantage of being able to understand and speak the basic Afrikaans language because it is based on Dutch.

That was right during the Apartheid period, when the population was segregated by the colour of their skin. Services and legal rights were separated for African and European races living in the same country. Different hospitals, buses and schools!

Black South Africans had to have their identification pass signed by a white person before they could even visit another suburb. That experience left a lasting mark on me.

It also gave me a real understanding of the courage and dignity of Nelson Mandela. Sadly we recently heard the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Still, we must be grateful for the hope and pride he brought to his country and the whole world during his magnificent life.

He showed us all that prejudice and injustice can be overcome by goodness, hope and compassion. His story is one of unbelievable dignity in the face of hatred and torment.

Have you seen the film the “Butler” with Forest Whitaker? It portrayed the horrific history of the brutality of slavery and segregation in the USA. Boy what a brutal story!

Just as in South Africa, African Americans suffered prejudice and injustice. In that case, unlike South Africa they were a minority group. As well as prejudice and injustice the film also shows the place of hope, dignity and forgiveness that lead to the election of Obama as President of the United States.

A while ago I walked on the Killing Fields in Cambodia and visited the Vietnam war museum in Saigon. How lucky we are here in Australia where most of us now living have never been sent to war, much less have had to endure invasion.

Still we have our own history of occupation and we rightly had to say SORRY to our own Aboriginal people for the prejudice that lead to their suffering and injustice within our own European settlement in Australia.

Two Men and a Truck produced a Youtube interview with Aunty Rita and Aunty Valerie, two Aboriginal sisters who where part of the stolen generation. Here we witnessed great wisdom and dignity in the words of these elderly ladies who suffered so much as children when they were incarcerated away from their mothers and families because of their race.

In all of these stories that happened not that long ago it is hardly possible to comprehend what “civilised” humans can do to each other. Often we talk about the “Good Old” Times. I have set a foot in those times and it wasn’t that good.

On balance though many acts of prejudice and injustice are opposed by courageous and dignified people who shine for us in their examples of goodness, forgiveness and compassion.

With this in mind we approach Christmas as the ultimate celebration hope, forgiveness and compassion. Hopefully also, our attitudes and perceptions are changing rapidly through modern communication.

We have now become a Global Community. We all expect to live and to be able to have a good and safe life.

Richard Richard Kuipers
Two Men and a Truck Ambassador

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