Can a Leopard change its spots ?

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

A SAD DAY

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It was, for me, a sad day indeed when I heard that America, the leading nation of the world announced that their Supreme Court had granted their approval on same sex marriages.   I have kept my ears and heart open to hear responses to this “evolved” declaration, and have been surprised by the gentleness on how this has been received. To me, it almost hinges on the catastrophic for the soul of a nation. Sad indeed.

I don’t want to have any kind of theological debate (I know I’ll lose!) Yet my heart has been tugged so hard at, that the least I can do is to write about it, and give my voice to this reluctant discourse.

To my mind, there are the law institutions which hold in themselves the highest law of the land, and society has to abide by it.  This is essential to maintain justice, peace and equality for all.   Society needs law and order, or else there will be chaos, and more injustice.   The Law is essential.    But even the highest law of the land is surpassed by the Moral Law, which is often undeclared, unseen, and unheralded.   The Moral Law is there for the soul – for the invisible justice !  If the Legal Law is broken there can be a shattering of a life, if the Moral Law is broken then there can be a shattering of the soul, – and that of a nation too !   Ignorance of both the Legal and Moral Law holds no excuse, and it must and will run its course, until justice has been performed.

There is no excuse, for we all have the knowledge of good and evil.  It is in our DNA, we all have been wired to know what is good and what is bad.  It is called our conscience ! Some may ignore it, some may deny it, some may be deceived by it, some may turn heaven and hell around to defend it, but when all is told, we know what is right and we know what is wrong.  We may not understand the mechanics of it, or care about the consequences as long as we have our own way with it.   It plays itself out in the choices we make in life !  God has designed us with a free will.  He is Sovereign in all things – all things – but we get to make the choices for our own lives – sometimes in ignorance, sometimes in foolishness, sometimes with calculated risks, and sometimes with graceful wisdom, whichever way… the choice is still ours to make.

Taking another angle on the matter I want to quote a few words  from Alan Webster’s QT 2/7/2015  concerning God’s love and sovereignty and paradoxes :
“God can be all loving but also not always act in a loving way – or so it seems from our point of view.   The latest furore that has been created by the Supreme Court decision in the US is turned around at Christians who don’t agree and castigates them for being unloving.  It is interesting that it is not just marriage that has been redefined, but Love too.    Why do we paint the truth in a rainbow of colours to suit the listeners rather than tell it like it is.   We love the Saviour part of Him, but squirm under His Lordship.  Will we also turn away when confronted by the Truth?”

It seems to me that the world is changing, and rapidly at that, and some of us are being left behind.   What is right has become wrong and what is wrong has now become right and acceptable.  Where have the values that stood the test of time gone – into our fickle human rights ?   Where are the ancient paths to follow ?    It is, for me, a sad day in the history of our times.

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Psalm 57:8  ….. Put my tears into Your bottle.