The Power of Influence

 

wind in trees

Now Influence is an interesting thing.
Perhaps we should ask the Scientists to explain it more readily for they would surely understand it better, even give an equation or formula to help us recognise its force ! But to a layman’s eye, we can only but muse and observe, and venture to write about its power.

Influence is invisible, but to the observers, its effect is at times a visible thing.  Just think of the wind.  You cannot see it, but you can see its effects on trees and clouds.

There is also, Influence of a different kind.
Outside one of our local suburban grocery stores they had put up a bright stand with a canopy, to sell pancakes and doughnuts.  I love pancakes.  On this particular autumn afternoon I decided to buy pancakes to take home to my family.  I placed my order and sat down on a bench to wait.  Along came a man and his daughter and bought doughnuts.   “Mmmm,”  he said, and I could almost hear his lips smacking as he took his second bite “they’re still warm”.   Well, I am going to buy pancakes, not doughnuts !  As I went forward to collect my pancakes I heard myself say, “and I’ll take three doughnuts too”.    doughnuts.jpg

Such is the power of invisible Influence, seducing my taste buds
and will power.

Let me go more regional.
I have a friend who lives up-country in the heart of South Africa, where the winters get really cold, with frosty winds that cut across anything warm.    She is a  passionate woman and is always crocheting blankets for community projects.
This winter Ronelle and her sister Dalene have embarked on  a campaign by making up community bags filled with necessities to distribute to those in service of others.  They have  influenced other knitting friends to help in their projects, and so their efforts have been able to extend and multiply.

R's Project bags
Community Bags ready for delivery.

The need is great.  She tells me that two Bloemfontein State hospitals frequently request blankets for the premature babies that are born there.  These young mommies, often unmarried women from the poor communities have nothing as they come in to deliver their babies.    These crocheted blankets provide for the babies to be wrapped up in kindness, as they go out.

R's blankets
A show of Blankets for Premature Babies

Then there is her outreach project to ten guys who go through garbage bins to collect anything recyclable, which they resell.   All this to create a job for themselves, to alleviate their poverty, and sustain their lives with a miniscule income.  They too receive a parcel of goodies from her project.
Furthermore, one of the Churches in Bloem have an outreach project to feed needy children with soup once a week.  This projects needs faithful volunteers who gather, cut, slice dice and make up the soup.   Ronelle has made up  parcels for these eight ladies who are instrumental in feeding 1500 children every week !

Ronelle is a community observer and worker at heart.    Not only does she influence and encourage others to participate in her community projects,  she acknowledges those volunteers who serve others,  observe those who alleviate their own poverty by standing up and doing something for themselves.
I would say that Ronelle is a strong Influence in her region.
You could say that the power of influence equals the power of one !   It takes just one person to make a difference in someone else’s world.

Chasing Influence wider, allow me to go global.
Mr Trump of the United States of America and Mr Kim Jong Un of North Korea have agreed, then disagreed,  and maybe will agree again,  that the summit planned to neutralise the use of the missile power-play of the North Koreans should go ahead and be resolved.     What hangs in the balance is the possible aversion of a global nuclear war !  Mr Moon of China has been very influential in the persuasion of Mr Kim to not only negotiate with the Americans,  but perhaps be a catalyst in freeing his very own people from the terror oppression of his former generation – for seemingly it was a reign of terror that put dread and fear in the hearts of the North Korean people, that have held them down like dead men standing !
Of course there are many working behind the scenes.  A lot of influencing, a lot of negotiating for the benefit for all the countries concerned – but that is just politics, and politics is all about power and influence !
The outcome of these talks can be disastrous for a world tottering on the brink of self-destruction, but if positive influence and common sense, and good sound negotiation, can prevail the outcomes will be so much more meaningful to a world wanting to grow and to be free, in trade and harmony and peace.

But Influence is not only the prerogative of politicians and the rich, it goes way beyond our world. Look at a night sky full of sparkling stars.  Gasp at the orbits of the planets !  See the influence of our moon on the ocean’s high and low tides.   Remember Newton’s apple ? – and wonder at gravity.    Gravity, now there is a powerful Influence of note, whose mystery still needs to be told.    There is Influence everywhere !

Stars in orbit

 

But of all the areas of Influence, the pinnacle, to my mind, is personal Influence.
Take Jabez for instance.  We do not know much about him.    He may have been a warrior king or a farmer.     We do not know.  What we do know is that he was an honourable man,  perhaps even a sensitive man, for he prayed the following prayer

…… Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”    So God granted him what he requested. 
He’s story is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10  in the Bible.   To this very generation many, including me, often pray the Prayer of Jabez.   How is that for Influence down the ages !

Having said all that, it must be noted that the power of Influence, although invisible is very important.   For that reason I must, more often than not, ask myself – who is influencing me ?  And even more astutely – who am I influencing  ?

We are not merely an entity of being but a sphere of influence too, whether positive or negative, good or bad.     And may we have the wisdom to know, and the courage to make, big or small,  an influential difference in our world.

melting-candle-clipart-candle-flame-1

 

 

 

 

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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,…..

 

Happy Birthday South Africa

flying SA flag

Happy Birthday South Africa !

 

Today you are 23 years old.    How you have galloped into the future, creating history at a rapid rate.

If Life is a stage let’s take a front seat together and have a look at the South African play before us.

In 1994, though through a crucible, you were born free from the oppression of your previous history.  A history that for all its intents and purposes nevertheless framed you for a better future for all.  A new day had come, a new government, with new policies waiting on the horizon of the unknown.  But one thing was sure, it was a delightful day of release, an expectation for some, and a dread for others.  Different worlds had to come together, different histories had to fuse, different cultures had to find a way to live side by side.  A tall order indeed ! – an order without a script to follow.

The honourable Nelson Mandela South Africa’s first president, set the vision in place, one South Africa for all, and all for one South Africa.  The dream box was opened, and the dream floated out of injustice and into the potential of a new nation.   Honour and respect were the order of the day.  Even the World at large recognised its significance and regarded its highly prized Constitution.   All was well, and Nelson Mandela graciously stepped aside for the next president to continue the legacy, and forge the future.

The honourable Thabi Mbeki South Africa’s second president was a man of vision too. Perhaps a little short in statue, but certainly long in vision.  He saw the African Renaissance, not only a re-birth of a nation, but also of the African continent.  His vision was the faint rumble of a new African-ism emerging.  Whatever that entails and holds the future, in time, will tell.
Seemingly South Africa was just exiting racism,  was another ism coming ?   And who will be waiting in the wings of the World’s stage to influence, manipulate, access and conquer the people, and the resources,  of this new nation on the southern tip of Africa.

Before the uncertain future cleared there was an interruption, and a new president pushed and jumped onto the stage for a part in the Play, and for a big slice of the wealth cake !

Mr Jacob Zuma the third president of South Africa, was by all accounts not a man of vision.  Although jovial and charming, was for a time  just the face for the ruling party.   Leaders, good or bad, are important.  Ordinary citizens like to look up at their leaders and feel secure, some even idolizing them,  especially so in Africa.  Mr Zuma swayed many with his charm, and then exhibited extreme cunning at staying in the power seat. He may well  have just succumbed, to the irresistible call for greed, always knocking at the door of power.
I suspect, however, that being exposed to the global stage, and the greater forces in the power-play arena Mr Zuma was influenced by the dark agendas and concealed plans and visions of the greedy power mongers in a world of economics, politics and power.

Not only had the dream box released the potential of a new nation, but along with it came out the vile of politics, power-play and corruption.   And although severely distasteful,  I dare say necessary, for we all at some stage, have to have the courage to take a good long look at ourselves – face to face, to see the good and the bad that lingers in all of us, whether on a personal  – or national  level !

I don’t doubt that time will tell Mr Zuma’s story in more detail.   Perhaps his best contribution to the South African story is that, by default, he exposed the resilience of the South Africa society, and its fervent need for true justice, and its ongoing striving for honour and integrity in its leaders, and in its people.
The South African Constitution Court bears clear evidence of this, and has proved to be a strong foundation-stone of this new democracy.

South Africa you have thrived on exciting and exhilarating politics these past 23 years, as the ghosts of the past have come out of your closet., and as new and entertaining players have taken to the stage with their own particular agendas, brands and personalities.

And then there is the unseen , unheralded band of caring prayer warriors who have kept the nation close to the heart of God, and under His wings South Africa has stood the test of fiery trials of corruption… and of state capture!   Keeping vicious wolves at bay !!
So a caring, colourful and vibrant nation indeed you are becoming,  South Africa.

Cape Town flag

But I would go as far as to say that South Africans have,  these past eight years been over politicised, and have overdosed on politics !   Is it because there has been a leadership vacuum ?  And of late just crisis management badly managed, halting economic development and resulting in the prospect of more poverty for the poorest in the nation.
Because of this you certainly have been stunted in your nation building, and the actual release of that people potential waiting to capture a future of progress and prosperity, for all.

For now, you are a nation on hold so to speak !  But time moves on, and the tide of politics will change, then a new day will break.   When you revert to the original plan of one South Africa for all, and all for one South Africa,  then that indeed will be a time to celebrate a true freedom –  and a good future together as one.

IMG-20170427-WA0001

Happy Birthday.  May God continue to bless you as a light to the nations, and in this present world of political, economic and social turmoil.

Happy Freedom Day !

Butterfly SA