Apartheid, the “F” word and an orbituary.
October 31, 2006: PW Both dies, aged 90. RIP
Although he will remain one of the symbols of apartheid, his legacy was probably the final straw that broke the back of the apartheid camel.
Let us never forget who were responsible for the apartheid architecture in South Africa. It all kicked off with British colonialism, enforcing a system of pass laws in the Cape Colony during the late 19th century. This resulted in regulating the movement of blacks from the tribal regions to the areas occupied by whites and which were ruled by the British. It began with the 1913 Land Act and the various workplace “colour bars”, which then became laws. Laws which emanated from the peace treaty signed between the Boer Republics and the British Empire at the end of the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. “Refinements” came under the watch of Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, JBM Hertzog, more Jan Smuts, DF Malan, JG Strijdom, HF Verwoerd, BJ Vorster and finally it stumbled to an end with PW Botha who was the last (and arguably the clumsiest) of the die hard apartheid enforcers. Thankfully in 1990 FW De Klerk took the reins of change and together with Nelson Mandela they finally put an end to the abomination that was apartheid in 1994.
Many will never forget the past, because we never un-learn or un-experience that which we have seen and experienced, however what is possible, is for the rainbow nation to start loving life and forgiving the past.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said; “The old law of ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys a community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.“
Is there an answer in all this, a way forward?
Yes, it is all about the “F word” – forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool for easing the pain caused by some of the tougher challenges we face. Some of you may recall that after the terrible killing of Amish children in a USA community in 2006 – forgiveness was the most extraordinary, mind-blowing, wondrous principle exercised by the Amish community. The day following the shooting, the Lancaster County Amish community informed the killer’s family that they forgave him for what he’d done. They forgave . . . . . . Why? How does this work?
Simply speaking you don’t forgive for the other person, it is not something you do FOR someone else, you grant forgiveness for yourself. Without forgiveness it becomes difficult to move on. It is not complicated. It is simple. Simply identify the situation to be forgiven and ask yourself: “Am I willing to squander more precious life energy further on this matter?” If the answer is “no” – great, you are ready to move on.
The inability to forgive results in an incredibly toxic energy that eats away inside of you and poisons your psyche, (and let us be quite clear it’s only you) – it does not affect the person you are unable to forgive. The other person invariably has no notion of having been forgiven or not. My wonderful late granny Schiller once spoke these sage words to me, “Refusing to forgive is akin to drinking poison and then hoping the other person will die.” To think otherwise is simply delusional fantasy; to refuse to forgive is to choose to continue to remain the victim.
Even in the most challenging situations, we need to simply seek an answer to the age old question; “How does this work for me?” and “What am I learning here?” There is always an opportunity for goodness to emerge.
Everywhere I go around the world I meet people, who say that above all, they wished they had lived an easier life. Makes sense – or doesn’t it? Challenges and trials are how we grow, how we learn, how we become – we seek out new skills, we train harder, we explore and dig deeper and go further and sometimes we hit snags and sometimes bad things happen. What we really need is more capacity to cruise gracefully through life and its surprises and challenges. In order to be graceful at life we need to be at peace. Conflict is about anger and control, forgiveness is about peace, peace provides freedom and it is freedom that unleashes the best in us all.