Saturday, February 16, 2013

Anene: let's look up to God

I have no idea how quickly graphic, gruesome news stories spread from Africa to North America. I imagine the story of the young Indian woman assaulted to death in a bus created quite a sensation. 

Just about 200 kilometers from where we live, another young girl was attacked earlier this month. She was only 17. Her name was Anene Booysen. Anene means "let's look up to God."

I sincerely hope she did look to Him in her final hours. Better not to dwell on the sordid details in this blog. Sensationalizing things does not bring resolution or make a difference. In fact, I wonder what the media does accomplish most of the time--besides selling more newspapers or getting more clicks on the internet.

Anene was a young, coloured teen. She lived with a foster mom. She was out late at night, but she did not "have it coming." Her death has been politicized. At her funeral so many governmental organizations "spoke" that her family didn't have an opportunity. 

There are many problems in this world and in this lovely land. But the deepest one is the problem of the heart. And so far, it has not been addressed. Anene was violated and killed by young men who knew her. Such "friends" should have been her protectors against strangers, but they vented their own brokenness upon her weakness. Their choices started long before they went for her.

Dag Hammarskjöld wrote:

You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy, doesn't reserve a plot for weeds.

Those young men didn't suddenly become vicious and pathological. They were not born that way. Something in them and in their environment brought the poison out into the light of day. South Africa mourns. South Africans carry placards against hate crimes against women and children. South Africa watches helplessly.

Protesting the results of playing with cruelty and falsehood while not addressing the root is a futile activity. We need to start weeding the gardens of the heart now.

That is why I am so glad to be here and working to get to the heart of the matter.

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