This is more a letter to my children than anything else. I hope they can look back in a few years and draw hope from this like the purest water from a well in the middle of a desert. In fact, may they be the purest water in a well in the middle of a desert.
There are a million ways to make a difference, good or bad, to the challenges we face in our country. Each one of them begins with getting up and showing up. Evil is everywhere to be found. The hope I carry for our country is however rooted in the fact that there is far more good to be found than evil. Everywhere we show up, we have the ability to do three things. We show up to create evil, we show up to fight evil with evil or we show up to win evil with good. The point is we have to get up and show up. This post is dedicated to all the people who get up and show up, all of them to win evil with good. I write about a few people who get up and show up in my life every day.
I think of my husband who gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to show up for work. Relentlessly, he provides for us. The saying “no one is irreplaceable” does not apply to him, I believe with all my heart. He works incredibly hard to be irreplaceable. With many years of dedicated input in this country and with each passing day still, he is building a legacy in his field. I think of how he, sometimes as a joke and sometimes with a pang of sadness, says, “If we leave the country, it will probably be too late.” I hope that he will never find himself desperate to leave. I hope that he will continue to literally build our nation and in doing so set a good example for his three sons and daughter. I hope that he will continue to show up to be a moral compass in circumstances where shadows abound.
I think of Lindiwe, an angel who works in our house three times a week. She gets up at four o’clock in the morning to take the bus to be in time for work. Her challenges are immense, bigger than I can ever comprehend. Yet, every time she walks into our home, she has a smile on her face and hugs my children with incredible compassion. Not once in the past seven years has she complained about the state she finds our house in. She just goes about her work of cleaning our house with a humble heart. She laughs with my children and tries to teach them Zulu. She brings good with her and does good in our home. She makes it easier for me to be a better mother. She shows up to help build our family so that we can be able to show up elsewhere. And she does it with joy.
I think of my son. It’s Thursday evening in a scorching hot Pretoria and together with almost fifty six year-olds and their proud families, we show up for his crowning function. Dressed in gowns and caps, they look older and wiser than their years. They are finished with preschool. They each get a turn to stand alone with their teacher and headmaster on the stage. They are not crowned with words describing what they are best at. They are also not crowned with shiny things like medals or trophies. What they are crowned with is words of affirmation. Bits of their character are described. What they each bring to school each day that makes a difference is told. They are crowned with blessings prayed over them. The fact that these little ones show up for school each day makes this evening and this life spoken over them possible. The fact that they can take from an evening like this the fact that what grows in their hearts are more important than worldly achievements, is wonderful.
I think of the headmaster who says a few words describing the themes of the school. This year, the theme is “Worship to victory” and next year it will be “Fellowship through unity”. I think of every teacher who shows up at school, dedicated to their calling. I think of the privilege to be part of a school where the incorporation of themes like these in academics, sports and culture are priority. I think of how themes like this give my child the confidence to get up and show up and love others. We look on with gratefulness as he builds friendships at school across multiple boundaries and barriers, oblivious to these. Fellowship and unity are only possible if we show up, we as parents first in line.
I think of my daughter, who gets up every day and is never in a filthy mood. She carries in her being such incredible joy that it literally knocks me off my feet and I sometimes find myself unable to deal with it. The hope she carries with her is not something I have anything to do with. It is the sheer love and joy of a Father who created her in his image. It is freedom and potential poured out in her from God who became man and showed up to pay the ultimate price. It is compassion that does not see a difference from one person to the next and is able to embrace life in all its glory. It is a prayer prayed over her each day, “The Lord blesses you and makes you a woman of big influence. That’s why you can be a blessing to others.” It’s to get up and show up in her little world and be a good influence, even at four years old.
I think of every father and mother who gets up and shows up for the children they brought into the world. The ones who are anything but perfect and also don’t try to be. The ones who are authentic and deal with unique challenges with courage and determination to build a next generation. I think of generations of men and women who work hard to be irreplaceable. I think of the generation currently in preschool who are oblivious to the apparent state our country is in. They are not aware of countries out there where the grass is apparently greener. They are too innocent to even try and compare apples with pears. They are too busy playing and building friendships and enjoying this life. In doing so, they are slowly but surely learning to show up and to pour out the hope they have in them into our country.
There are indeed a million ways to make a difference, good or bad, to the challenges we face in our country. Each one of them begins with getting up and showing up. And then to win the evil with good, one single dedicated human at a time. May we be the people who get up and, indeed unapologetically, pour out the hope in us everywhere we show up.
My dear children, this is how the hope for a better South Africa is kept alive.