Are We Ready to Sing – “Enough?”

Youth Day

Love must be sincere.

Hate what is evil.

Cling to what is good.

Today, June 16, is a holiday in South Africa to commemorate Youth Day.

Forty years ago, this day, thousands of South African youth took to the Soweto township streets to march in a peaceful protest against the apartheid government’s Bantu Education policies – particularly the new language policies. Bantu Education was originally introduced in South Africa in 1953. The concept was devised by Dr. Henrik Verwoerd who instructed that “Natives (blacks) must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans (whites) is not for them.”

Black townships schools received far less classroom space, less teacher support, and less educational resources than segregated white schools.  At that time (and even today), Black South African students were fluent in a number of African languages. However, as the apartheid government implemented Afrikaans as the official medium of instruction and evaluation along with English, the students’ frustration and resentment over these restrictive policies grew.

The use of local languages was now prohibited in black township schools. For students taking exams, their inability to speak and write Afrikaans, would be a serious obstacle to them demonstrating their subject knowledge and a harsh encumbrance to further educational opportunities.

These students challenged this unfair policy through song, dance, and signs one winter morning in 1976. They marched in eleven columns strong through the streets of Soweto. Their support and advocacy and I would even say their love for one another and for what they needed sang strong – reveling in their oneness.

Love Must Be Sincere

At 9 am in the morning, at a juncture, now known as Hector Pieterson Square, police stood in the marchers’ path. The police force had been ordered to disperse the youth and send them back to school. Next, according to eyewitness reports, the police surrounded the throng of students and refused to let them continue forward to Orlando Stadium. The situation churned with intense emotion. Yet the students stood fast, calm and resolute. They continued to sing.

Then, a policeman hurled a teargas canister into the front rows of the marchers. The teargas stung the marchers’ eyes and choked their throats.They were dazed and confused. Yet, they still stood. They would not retreat. The rows behind them continued to sing and chant.

Next, it is said that a policeman set his dog upon the group to push the students back. The students responded by throwing rocks at the dog. As they did so, another policeman raised his gun. He shot into the crowd of children.

Panic and pandemonium followed.

More policeman raised their guns and fired upon the students.

The peaceful and nonviolent intentions of the students were decimated in mere seconds as the children were indiscriminately shot – one after another – by a professional police force.

The Soweto Uprising was birthed through this senseless massacre. The events of June 16, 1976 and the days thereafter that year became a rallying point against the struggle of apartheid. In addition, when the iconic photo of the lifeless body of 12 year old Hector Pieterson bled across the world media, the world was horrified.

Hate What Is Evil

Who could not at such a shocking sight – children killed while they sang and danced for an education?

This is injustice.

Flash forward to today, and the events of 1976 are 40 year old memories. If you talk to anyone though, who lived during that time, these memories are Real. Heart-wrenching. Precious. Unfathomable.

Yet, are our current times, especially, in light of recent terror attacks in the United States any less real? Any less heart-wrenching? Any less precious as friends and family members forever mourn their loved ones? Any less unfathomable that people keep choosing to cause catastrophic harm to others?

Orlando Strong

Is it possible to cling to what is good in such times?

Where is the love that is sincere, pure, and true?

All many of us see right now is the hate which is evil.

And honestly?

We want none of it.

None.

This blog is dedicated to blessing and encouraging others. I’ve been struggling all week about whether to jump into any kind of on-line conversation since the Orlando tragedy. What can I say to encourage and bless in recognition of the tremendous, heart-sore pain that so many of us are reeling from after yet another senseless, terror attack?

Friends, what I will say is that 10,000 South African youths decided to join together one day in 1976 and sing, “Enough.”

Their courageous decision to march set South Africa on a trajectory for change.

Not without struggle.

Not without pain.

Not without loss.

They wanted something more for themselves and more for each other.

Change always requires some level of cost.

What do we want for each other? For our children?

Are we ready to sing – Enough?

Enough.

Enough.

Enough.

Enough.

And then will we act upon our song – like the children of Soweto, South Africa?

Only then, will our love be sincere….

2 thoughts on “Are We Ready to Sing – “Enough?”

  1. My people have been singing “enough” for decades, even while the Christian right continues to institutionalize discrimination, hatred, and death against us. We’ve mourned men and women tortured, raped, or hung on fences to die, the increasing rate of murder of transgender women with each year, the epidemic of youth homelessness and the 1500 LGBT children who take their lives every year due to the bigotry and cruelty of their families and communities, and now THIS. 50 Hispanic LGBT men and women gunned down in one night within their own community space by just another religious man claiming to know god’s judgment on us. We have been singing “enough” but no one was hearing us until it was a Muslim who killed us instead of one of your own. But, make no mistake, the same hatred he had in his heart lives in the heart of American Christianity and the oppressive and brutal environment that Christians have created for us contributed directly to the massacre on Sunday.

    If you want to sing “enough” then plead with your Christian brothers and sisters to stop calling us sinners, perverts, criminals, pedophiles, and abominations. Tell your Christian brothers and sisters to accept us fully without condition and without judgment. Tell them to stop talking to us and start listening. Tell them to stop pretending that “love the sinner, hate the sin” is any different than hatred (it’s NOT). Tell them to leave us alone. Tell them to stop pressuring their children to change their gender or sexuality to fit their religious views. Tell them to stop criminalizing our existence in public restrooms. Tell them to stop valuing “religious freedom” to discriminate against us over our right to equality in public accommodations, housing and employment. Tell them to stop opposing anti-bullying measures that save childrens’ lives. Tell them to stop using us as a signal of the “moral degradation” of our nation. Please, please, please do this in honor of the 50 who died, in honor of the 4 LGBT children or young adults who are going to kill themselves in the next 24 hours in this country alone. Please.

    1. Dear Evan, the searing pain that you feel over past offenses and the current shock and horror of the Orlando massacre truly bleeds into this reply and the one you wrote on your own blog earlier in the week. I am so sorry. My heart grieves with you over what has happened.

      I quoted a verse from Romans 12:9 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It is not my intention to “Jesus Bomb” you as you feel others do to you – but rather to say that sadly the Christian community has done little to show the sincere love of Christ in word and action in your eyes. You don’t see it. You don’t feel it. You don’t believe it.

      You have been writing to me off and on for almost two years now. I can hardly believe that! Time is going so fast! Yet, this response to me has been the most intense by far. In the past you have shared the personal struggles and the hurt you have endured in your life. In this post, you advocate for others – not just asking, but demanding a number of things from the Christian right. I have read your every word.

      We do not know each other personally. You do not see how I live my life – nor have I ever seen how you live yours. We have chosen to exchange ideas, views, and thoughts in hopes of understanding each other better.

      In my small sphere of influence, I choose to share the love of Christ – the sincere love of Christ with others – no matter who they are or what they believe. This is what I am about – day in and day out. Not just in what I write, but in what I do. And I shall continue.

      I live in a society, currently, that is still coming to grips with its past and its discriminatory laws. In my eyes, and I know in my God’s eyes, all people are equal and loved and this is what I share here. As a result, I live with a great desire to love others and be available to others as best I can.

      You see, I believe that being open and available to another person is the most powerful gift we can offer. To be present in others’ lives – not just in word – but to be there when times, especially difficult times, require the touch, the care, and the blessing of another to keep, keeping on.

      I don’t run in circles of a “Christian Right.” Honestly, that concept makes me want to run in the opposite direction. I shudder when I hear it. There is no love in ‘being right.’ There is only love in being present – especially in times of mourning and loss. This is when love is sincere.

      Evan, your heart has been shred to pieces. In such times, the only comfort I have found is the grace and love of God to help see me through. I do not know what your heart relies upon in such times, but I pray that it will find comfort, rest and peace even in the midst of this terrible time.

      If I was with you, I would hug you!

      Peace,
      heather

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