Thursday, 4 June 2020

Things I can't change and the things I can - a personal reflection on the death of George Floyd

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Things I can’t change and those I must change! – Reflections on death of George Floyd

Jesus once said - “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” – Luke 4:18

In the ensuing brokenness and heartache around the tragic murder of George Floyd, I have been wrestling with a personal response. On the one hand I realise that I am perhaps not the right person to speak into this tragedy, as I am a white male, but for me NOT to say anything would be even more shameful. So, let me start from a slightly different perspective, but please understand that this is my personal response. You are welcome not to carry on reading.

There are a few things in my life that I believe I have had no control over:  When and where I was born, what race I am and my gender. Now the combination of these four leaves me as a white South African male, hailing from KwaZulu Natal, who has been privileged in many ways. Like I said, these things I can’t change, but this doesn’t mean I don’t need to change and nor does it mean that I can’t speak out against racism, injustice, violence and abuse.

Just because I am a male, doesn’t preclude me from standing alongside women who are being abused and mistreated on a daily basis. In fact, I am called to speak out against men who treat women in an undignified and ungodly manner. For this reason, I wear the ‘Thursday’s in Black’ badge with sincerity as it reminds me to take a stand alongside all women.

Just because I am an adult, doesn’t mean that I can’t defend children who are being beaten, abused and deprived of their rights. As an adult I have a mandate to defend the innocent and those who are marginalised. For this reason I will support any organisation who seeks to defend children and give them the hope and future they need.

Just because I am ‘white’ doesn’t exclude me from speaking out against the murder of innocent people, especially people of other races. In fact, my humanity demands that I hold the dignity of all people as a priority. So when the world speaks about #blacklivesmatter I feel I must stand in solidarity with my friends, colleagues and congregation members who are black. Remember, this is not to deny who I am (because I can’t change my colour, my birth, my gender), but it is to recognise the humanity in my fellow human beings.

Is this not what Ubuntu truly is? That I am a person, because of who you are and you are fully a person, because of who I am? Together we make up the human race. 

Lastly, I believe that because I am a Christ-follower Jesus calls me to a high standard of faith and life. This will include speaking out against injustice, racism, violence, murder and any other display of abuse. Jesus always took the side of the oppressed and the marginalised – not because of a superior, paternalistic attitude, but because the heart of God is always turned to the hearts of his people.

I can’t change who I am, and none of my friends of other race groups are asking me to do that. However, for this moment, I believe black people, women, children and others are asking me to stand with them, as they struggle to be accepted for who they truly are. Because, remember, all of us never had a choice in where we were born, our colour or our gender.

There is so much more I want to write, but I think you get the gist of my heart. It breaks the heart of God when human beings destroy one another, because we are all created in the image of God. 

I leave this post with the following words. They were written at a time when the world realised that ‘remaining silent’ was as dangerous as taking a stand. These are words of Martin Niemoller.

“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”

Living in Grace



Diwakar said...

Hello Pastor Delme. I am also a Pastor from Mumbai India. I am glad to stop by your profile on the blogger and the blog pos. I am also blessed and feel privileged and honoured to get connected with you as well as know you being a Pastor and about your interest in in GRACE and how we can live with purpose. Your post definately speaks of your heart and the christian perspective you have expressed and your reflection on the death of George Floyd. I fully agree with you. I love getting connected with the people of God around the globe to be encouraged strengthened and praying for one another. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 41 yrs inthis grewat city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the brokenhearted. We also encourage young and the adults from the west to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. We would love to have young people from your chruch to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. I am sure they will have a life changing experience. Since you also love travelling and sharing the Word of God, we would love to have you come to Mumbai to encourage and strengthened the body of Christ. Looking forward to hear from you very soon. god's richest blessings on you your famiy and friendsd. Also wishing you a blessed and a Christ centered rest of the year 2020. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede

Ian said...

Thanks Delme,
Thank you for the reminder that what we are given does not define us. It is what we do or fail to do with what we are dealt that defines us. To live as Christ followers is to find our place in a world of others and otherness, to love and to bring hope. Thank you for reminding us of this challenge.

Delme Linscott said...

Thanks for the feedback guys - God bless you all