Can a Leopard change its spots ?

 

IMG_0529 (1)

 

My somewhat lopsided Leopard, with all its intricate and significant markings, took me ages to complete, and finally brought me to this question  :  Can a leopard change its spots ?

This questions reminded me of a sweet Bible joke,  –  and a play on words that has the
power to make me smile.
Before I share it with you I have to set a scene from our history for you to understand my little joke, –  and some of our nation’s culture tensions.

We have 11 official languages in South Africa !   One of which is Afrikaans.    The Afrikaners were part of the forge from European nations e.g. the Dutch, French and German, who all had their reasons to set sail for African shores in the distant past.
In the wake of the discovery of gold and diamonds, the Anglo-Boer (the war between the Afrikaans farmers and English soldiers )  –  scraping through a crippling drought, famine and poverty, the Afrikaners were instrumental in establishing a firm foundation, and set infrastructures in place for a nation to emerge here at the southern tip of Africa.  Of course, not perfect, they have made huge mis-judgments and mistakes in the development of our people, that have their result in our very present day super sensitive racial tensions.

Butterfly SA

We are a very complex and diverse nation, evident in each of our 11 cultural languages with their own histories, before we even get to the collective history – which is still unfolding !!

Because of the Anglo-Boer war,  before our recent history, there had always been a sharp cultural tension between the Afrikaner and the English-speaking people in the land – mainly due to the war.    The ‘Boertjie’ a nick name for the Afrikaner and ‘Rooinek’ for the English were at times intentionally disparaging toward each other. One particular aspect was that the ‘Boertjie” often got his tenses wrong when he was forced to speak English.
Perhaps that’s the reason why some of my writing gets its tenses wrong  – a kickback from my ancestry !!

images.png Smiley face    Now let me tell you my little joke, emanating from that part of our history.

Adam and Eve were walking in the Garden of Eden, and Eve had identity issues, with questions.
She asked Adam if they were English or Afrikaans ?   Adam scratched his head unknowingly and said he would ask God.     So the next day when they met in the cool of the evening as was their custom,  Adam asked God if they were English or Afrikaans.  God gave Adam a penetrating gaze and said in a soft wisdom “Adam my son, you are what you are”
The next morning over an apple crumble breakfast, Adam told Eve he now knew the answer to her question.  Eve sat forward, for she had an inquiring mind and liked to gather knowledge.  “We are English” Adam told her.  “And how did you come to that deduction” asked Eve.  “Well” said Adam, ” I asked God if we were English or Afrikaans, and He said  ‘ Adam you are who you are‘  – well now, if He was Afrikaans He surely would have said Adam you is who you is.”  –  (smile now)

Language,  and culture make up identity.   I think that mindful language will not easily offend, and a little humour can go a long way in today’s global racist climate.  We need to laugh at ourselves more often – and that is easier done when you have an understanding and an acceptance of your own place in history, whatever that may be, your identity,  and your own unique story, for we all have stories to tell.
History clarifies that we all come from a race and cultural group.  And History will always reveal the bias of past governance.  Taking the high ground of hindsight is easy, and demanding justice has its place.   But we can’t truly go forward, looking in the rear view mirror.  We need to get into the gear of forgiveness to take us forward to fulfil our potential and our destinies, – or stay as we are, and wait until time heals or new adversaries surface !   History has an equalising effect.
I came across a telling quote recently,  it read :  We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it – Rick Warren.   Well said.

With worldwide nation-shifting currently going on, the world is in a state of cultural and racial flux. We all have our own cultural perspectives, because we are all diverse.  We would be wise to heed sensitivity and by the same token avoid a victim-mentality.  After all we all have our own distinct and different spots, so to speak.

Identity, is not only language and culture, but character too.  Character is based on values, ethics and morals – and choices make character.
In my little joke, God in His wisdom said : you are who you are,  but we are not expected to stay that way.   Through moral values and decisions we have opportunities to become more, and this can and will influence our character, identity, even our destiny.
Perhaps it is not just the social economic poverty, which is huge, but moral poverty that is the true cause of the ills in our societies today.

Attitude is telling, and shines through the filtered light of our varying  societies.   An often used quote is  : Attitude is everything.   I agree with that.   It’s the place in life, where courtesy and respect begins or ends, the difference between being civilised or barbaric.   I like to keep this quote in mind : Courtesy is the first rung on the ladder of civilisation. (source unknown)

‘Ubuntu’  is an African term that can take on different connotations  e.g. community caring, kindness, courtesy, respect for each other.   This makes all the difference to our attitudes in our societies.
My interpretation of Ubuntu is  –  Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

We can change our spots by changing our minds, and our attitudes and sprinkled with humour can even help to change the spots of others.
So even when we humorously retort  …..’  I is who I is ‘  ….. we can change !
If we stop to think about this, it is applicable on many levels, –  socially, psychological and spiritual,     As a man thinks, so is he.  Proverbs 23:7

I found my leopard in the Bible, Jeremiah 13:23 where it says : Can an Ethiopian change his skin, can a leopard change its spots ?
As the chapter also speaks to idolatry and  pride – eeek ! –  I had to pay close attention, because my spots can so easily reveal my pride too !!   It is something to think on.

My spots are my spots, but if I allow God’s goodness and grace to change me, my spots, wrinkles and blemishes will change into a thing of beauty, that helps me see the beauty spots in other people.  That kind of transformation is good, essential and eternal.

In today’s super sensitive racial climate, may my leopard serve as a reminder for us to love our neighbour.

Ubuntu,  my friend  Ubuntu !

Butterfly SA

 

 

 

 

 

Phenomena – The winds of change

 

Coconut palm trees blowing in a breeze against a blue sky

 

Often, as the year comes to an end, we are presented with reviews of the current events of the past year.   I suspect that this year it will be no different.    We have experienced some strange phenomena going on in our world at large.

Curious to me, is the phenomenon of the Global Migration taking place.
Africa seems to be migrating to Europe.
Central Americans are walking, to America in what they call a caravan of people.
The devastating Syrian war that have caused huge Refugee camps to become new neighbourhoods for the victims of war

Why,  I wonder ?
I heard it said, that it is because  the poorest of the poor cannot tolerate their poverty one minute more, and are willing to risk life and limb to make a change for themselves and their families for the better.   Crime and oppression have just become to unbearable in their own countries.  Power and greed stifles, maims and kills !  And who could, or should live in those conditions ?

Migration poses enormous problems as it becomes a huge challenge, – but so to a change in the cultural exchange of the receiving countries.
It is unchartered waters where the solutions and outcomes are not known, and long-term effect will bring about irretrievable results.
What will a melting pot of languages and cultures mean in the course of time ?  Will there be conflict, for sure, will there be confusion, for sure, but no one knows, as yet the reasons or the results for this phenomena called Migration.  Will it mean a new global village ?  A loss of nationalism, and thus identity ?  No one knows the future.

The world, in its oh so developed state, have forgotten the poor.  The mass of the people of our  global world are poor and been ignored, and purposely, and conveniently forgotten.
We think we are so smart, with our smart phones and devices of mind-boggling technological  proportions, that in essence leave the people of our world in a poorer place.  Poorer in unemployment, poorer in equality, poorer in integrity !
I am not against progress and development, but that surge should be for all people, not just the rich, the famous and the powerful.

Muslims are being detained in China, and are undergoing a de-doctrination, in large “schools” being built to accommodate this plan.
Jews despicably murdered in their own synagogues, recently in Pittsburgh.
American politics have turned a corner in contemporary party politics, with targeted pipe bomb scares.  Maybe harmless, maybe not, but it is incomprehensible political warfare of a new kind.

Nationalism is another surprising and interesting phenomenon standing its ground.
Trump’s America and Britain’s Brexit strongly reflect this phenomenon.    Just when the globalisation of the whole world seemed unstoppable, with its fast trade, tsunami-like  waves for financial gain, that blows consumerism into a frenzy of more and more and more !   Is a resistance being raised to being dominated and manipulated by the money god of world economics?

Cyber information is perhaps the most alarming phenomena of our time – all about the subtle influencing of gullible consumers, advertising, branding and marketing, not to mention sinister manipulation, politicking and power – and eroding the facts and the truth about almost any given matter.    Fake news seems to be an acceptable thing ! And  at times the gossip on the social media is a ‘source’ for the news scoop of the day !

Morality has been turned upside down, reflecting the good as bad and the bad as good – what is trending is right !  The moral compass is out of sight, even some would say lost.
And to my mind, that is the saddest of the modern phenomena of the times we live in today.

The Crime and Corruption phenomena, although global, is very evident here in South Africa.   To watch the local news is a depressing experience.  News moves at lightning speed through our politics, which changes every day.  Our gruesome community stories, mostly about poverty, crime and community protests and unrest –  reveals the mountain of corruption we are enduring at present.
In fact, South Africa, seemingly innocently unaware, has been looted under a cloud of skilful strategic corruption of magnum proportions, –  for almost a decade now !
Now that the threads of corruption and crime are being unravelled, by an astute new leadership, we are left gobsmacked at the enormity of this wasteful expenditure – and the depravity of the sons of shame in our nation – as the poor are even poorer than before.
Yet there is hope with moments of the comical, the kindest of humanities and of course our invigorating and beloved Sport, that brings us a light refreshing.
Our news, most times depressing, but perhaps  ‘all sides of  diverse and vibrant’, would be a better catch phrase to describe the South African news.

But, not to be to much of a pessimist I need to mention another strange phenomenon that
has taken place in our country this past year.   Huge people-gathering events have taken place when thousands answered the call for prayer,  seeking mercy and sustenance for our leaders, our people and our country.
At the last gathering in October, prayers were said for a spirit of forgiveness for the peoples of South Africa  –  to give forgiveness, and to receive forgiveness from each other.    For racism, murder and evil to be nullified, and for a new day of progress and development for all South Africans.

To my mind, the best kind of phenomenon is Prayer, that ushers in the winds of change !

2 Chronicles 7:14
If My people who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray,
and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and heal their land.

Red rose

 

Mind-shifts and Mine-fields.

bright sunrise

 

A new day is dawning in South Africa.

South Africa, amazing, vibrant, diverse and surprising, as usual, has not failed to provide for speculative and spectacular politics over these past few days.   And especially so the last few months of the years of Jacob Zuma’s term in office, from which he was ousted by his own party members  just months before his term ended.   Just as with the previous South African president Thabo Mbeki.  The wheel has indeed turned !

South Africa has a way of going all the way to the edge of demise, before pulling back in resilience and fortitude.   The birth of the new South Africa in 1994 was a tumultuous time when the shadow of a civil war loomed but was narrowly prevented by prayer and skilful peace-keeping interventions that drew us back from the brink.

The Nelson Mandela years were hopeful with the new vision for a country where Oppression was lifted and all people were to be equal.   The working out of that dream was not an easy one as many mind-shifts had to be made.  Slowly the privileged ones had to expand their minds to inclusivity, and perhaps even more slowly, the underprivileged ones has to let go their grip on being a victim of their history.   Both difficult, almost impossible tasks for a very passionate, vibrant and an outspoken society – yet necessary to grow in unity and wholeness to build one nation.   But it would take time.

Thabo Mbeki, a man for an African vision saw a larger picture, and spoke of an African Renaissance.  This might have planted seeds, but for the time being it may well have been a vision for a time to come.  The Government of the day were finding their new power-based feet, as ordinary South Africans were grappling,  with their new-found identities, pressing social issues, the Aids epidemic, and wanted swift and decisive plans and actions.

Thabo Mbeki was unceremoniously recalled by his party, and in his place Jacob Zuma took over the reigns of this fledgling nation.   When a nation and its leaders are in unchartered waters it would be good to have a compass or a plan.   There was no clear announced vision to take the country forward, probably due to the identity crisis in the new governing party.   For years they had been fostering a revolution movement to take over the country, and had perhaps, in hindsight now, not made the mind-shift from political revolution to good political governance.  So political football was played out, to only the delight of the political parties involved, as the rest of society was waiting for  a clear directive to move forward – none came.     But the dissatisfaction of the poorer citizens who saw no economic change whatsoever began to demonstrate their dissatisfaction and very real frustrations with protest marches and the burning of some establishments.
Huge mine-fields for the nation were beginning to appear as greed and corruption had seduced well positioned power people in power structures to take, grab and hold onto  all the resources and wealth that were there for the taking – the looting of the State coffers.     And this happened, without a peep from anyone, until it was almost to late, and another demise glaringly stared us in the face, as foreign looters – (and  calculating foreign  nations with power and nuclear aspirations may well have played a pinnacle role,  perhaps yet to be revealed, when the rotting cancer of corruption in South Africa is finally and fully exposed)  –  and all this went unchecked !
The global markets reacted to the situation in South Africa, and then only did the alarm bells go off.   Of course the president was not equipped to deal with these problems, buried his head in the sand and strategically played delay tactics to squirm out of any responsibility.
But  ordinary South Africans are resilient, and fierce stalwarts of integrity and righteousness.  And so once again, the claw-back from the demise came this time through protest marches, the media, the press, and by God’s grace the Judicial system, that had been waving the constitutional flag of morality and justice to reign supreme for all South Africans.

flying SA flag

Now,  a new day has dawned in South African politics with a new president. Cyril Ramaphosa, who spoke at the State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 16 February 2018.    He breathed hope into our politically fatigued nation,  gave a renewed vision of hope –  a revived Nelson Mandel vision for equality for all South Africans.   But this time, having passed through all the tumultuous times of nation construction and deconstruction,  there is an inclusive economic plan, that means business with the rest of the world to invest into our collective future, even a building stone for a fast developing  African continent.

All South Africans have been invited to take part in this new era that has dawned.  As President Ramaphosa indicated in his speech,  it is for all South Africans who want equality through hard work, integrity, the rooting out of corruption, and to build a new South Africa.
To cap it all a former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel put it this way :
” Ship South Africa has a new captain, and its all hands on deck “

The  one mind-shift that will accelerate the move from poverty to progress to prosperity is this:   Ask not what can I get but rather ask what can I give ! – then go and build and plant wherever you are, and whatever you do, to benefit yourself and others in our community.

The time has indeed come for all South Africans to build and to plant one nation with integrity and with honour, for the benefit of all who live in her, and for the benefit of the country and the continent.

 May God bless South Africa.

Butterfly SA

Jeremiah 18 : 9  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom,
                              to build and to plant it,…..