If any of you self-absorbed wastes of protoplasm happen to be reading this, you need a history lesson. Let's step back in time to a Christmas long past, in South Africa under apartheid(that's, like, super racism and it's real bad, mmkay). Let's enter the world of real heroes--the people who actually did the kinds of things you just know you'd be doing in that situation as long as it didn't involve giving up your six-latte-per-day habit...or your iWhatever, or your weed, or...aw, screw it. You straight-up wouldn't have the balls, and deep down, you know it. This, bitches, is how you really Make A Difference. RTWT, if you dare.
He wasn't joking about that. To have the wrong color of skin, or be a member of the wrong tribe, or have the wrong political sympathies, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, had been a death sentence for all too many South Africans of all races in the past few years.Yeah...tell me again how much your Christmas sucked, you worthless, braindead idiots. Then get on your knees and thank Almighty God for what He's blessed you with, which you have spit upon, ignored and taken for granted...and then beg His forgiveness.
I set the telephone chain in motion. We were a small group of people who cared. We didn't give a damn about the politics of those in need - although all of us were opposed to apartheid, and wanted to see South Africa a genuinely democratic nation. We were all believers in our particular faiths, and saw it as our duty to help the helpless, rather than shout political slogans. We went into townships where violence had erupted, tried to get the injured to safety, took in supplies for distribution through local churches, and generally tried to bring a little light into the darkness of the turmoil that was spreading throughout the country like a cancer.
We were of all races, and all religions: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, animist, Hindu . . . you name it, and the odds were we had at least one member of that faith in our loose network. It didn't matter to us. If you believed strongly enough in your faith that you were willing to put your life on the line to help those in need, that was all that counted. We were brothers and sisters from that moment. We would worry about the theology later.
David got out of the passenger seat next to me, getting in the back, and the boy took his place. We bumped into the back roads of the township, the familiar smells growing stronger by the yard. The stench of excrement overlaid every other odor - this township didn't have a sewage system, and relied on buckets to catch the 'night soil' deposited by its inhabitants. Acrid smoke mingled with the fecal smell, and if you had an active imagination, you could smell the fear too. You could certainly smell it in our vehicle - all of us knew what we were facing.
The dirt roads were dusty, except where runnels of sewage ran down the middle of some of them, adding a noisome mud to the scenery. Feral dogs cringed out of our path as we drove past. No-one was visible on the streets at all. They were either locked in their homes, hoping and praying that the violence didn't move in their direction, or they'd fled to a place where they imagined they'd be safer.
I put down my plate, to have it swiftly taken by a young child, who carefully washed the plastic utensils and put them in a bag. In a place where poverty was so rampant, there was no such thing as 'disposable' cutlery. Even the dirty paper plates, which couldn't be washed, would be kept after being scraped clean. When dried and torn into strips, they would serve as kindling to light fires. Nothing was wasted here.
It was full dark now. Fanyana and I stood silently together outside the hall, watching the skyline to the East. It glowed and flickered as burning buildings sent up the light of their flames. We could see them reflected from the smoke clouds . . . black, sooty smoke, from car tires. If those nearby were fortunate, the tires would be burning only as barricades across the street. If they weren't, some of those tires would be burning around the necks of anyone suspected of being an informer, or lacking sympathy for the 'revolution'. They'd scream their last as the gasoline-soaked 'necklaces' roasted their faces and heads into charred caricatures of a human being.
I almost lost my faith that night. I'd been on the brink for some time, furiously angry at Church leaders who preached politics instead of the Gospel, who supported political factions instead of standing for all believers, who talked a good fight instead of going into the streets and actively ministering to those who most needed their help. To me, the Gospel was deed rather than word - and all I was hearing from these leaders was words. It made me sick, and I was on the point of abandoning my membership of any organized Church. Looking at those flames in the distance, knowing that people were suffering and dying there, I cried out internally to God, asking Him, "Where are your bishops and priests and pastors and ministers now? Why aren't they here, with Fanyana and others who need them? Where is the love they proclaim so loudly, but never live out?"