I cringe when I read in a youth ministry leader recruitment list,
“we do not encourage or allow leaders to spend time alone with a member of the opposite sex [in whatever place]“.
The reason for my cringing? It’s naive and irresponsible to think that abuse, in whatever form, is limited or reserved to members of the opposite sex by adult leaders. Read any news paper or tabloid and I’m sure you will agree that abuse and abuser is no respecter of gender, age, or relationship.
Why do churches and youth ministries then continue to create and enforce policies that are so out of touch with cultural realities?
Just a thought…
This is my fourth post on the film Four Corners. In the first three, I reflected on an introduction, and then briefly outlined what I liked and disliked about the film. This being my fourth post, I will reflect on some of the truths and realities offered by the film. Gabriel had a point to raise and he did it well.
1. We are a product of the apartheid system
The displacement of people groupings and like so many other communities are products of the apartheid system that existed in South Africa prior to 1994. Communities such as those on the Cape Flats have yet to break free from the shackles of the past. We are a product of the successful implementation of oppression by our opressors. The oppressive system has shaped our community and have successfully shaped it out of proportion and caused it to be the unhealthy communities we now have on the Cape Flats. It’s a community that knows and experiences violence and despair, abuses of diseased proprtions, and poverty on a daily basis. I have lived through these realities in my family, my neighbours, my community and my school. It seems to me that we now have a culture of violence and despair and abuse and poverty and is so easily accepted as life.
2. We remain a product of a self-inflicting and perpetuating system
I often struggle with the dichotomy of nature versus nurture, which of these two have a more dominant effect on a person? Now I’m no psychologist but I am certain that while we have the capacity to decide on our actions, our nature, we are tremendously influenced by our surroundings, our nurture. Can we still say that we are who we are because of our circumstances and our pasts or that we are born this way and that we don’t have the capacity to change? Or is it that we don’t want to change? I once heard that one of the main reasons people don’t desire for success is because they don’t want to deal with the responsibilities that come with it. It’s much easier playing the victim than wanting to make something better of your life and in return having to have a responsibility to those who are still in the system. As Christians we believe we are born in sin and are born sinners, but who we become remains our decision despite the many influencers around us. We are not born as murderers and wholly evil because we remain created in God’s image with the capacity to respond to our circumstances and to make choices in life. There are too many examples of people who have survived this horrible system and has crafted a successful life despite living on the Cape Flats for people to say that we are caught and stuck in this system. Today we are our own oppressors.
3. Our community is in trouble
There can be no doubt or argue that our community is in trouble. Too often we read about gang violence in our communities. We read about our young people dropping out of schools, teenage girls falling pregnant, families breaking down, and crime is on the increase. I was both fortunate and yet uncomfortable to sit in the comedic act of Joey Rashdien and he made no beans about the fact of how dangerous the coloured community is. He even stated that the coloured community is worse and more dangerous than the wild life in the Pilansberg Game Reserve. Trevor Noah too comments in his comedic acts of the violent coloured community, and I often wonder if we perpetuate this image so that we can remain in focus and on public agendas?
How do we change a community? We change a community by changing the family! Therefore our primary focus in our communities should be families because that is where we can turn the tide and protect our young people from being prey to the system. Hopefully then we can no longer be the mockery of comedic acts and the definition of gang life and violence and abusers of narcotics. An often quoted Mahatma Ghandi may be fitting in “be the change you wish to see in the world”.