How can we build each other?

The work I do is truly a gift that has allowed me to interact with many people. The core gift is being able to enter into their lives and see the value of being sensitive to their stories.  The gift of interacting with these people sometimes has not been an easy journey but when ultimately found, there is so much joy in it. I mostly meet these people in the parishes when I do the work.  This includes their parish priests. All these people form and become part of South Africa. Inside and outside the Church, in the community, there have been two journeys for me – the journey of hope and that of hopelessness. The two journeys I am going to talk about are about the broader sense of life. The life we face and live every day.

Three things make up my journey of hope: clean sanitation for all – jobs (at least for most people), and good education for all South African learners. I rejoice when I hear stories of hope that lead us to prosperity. This joy I not only find in myself but in all who belong to this country. When this does not happen fully, I feel less hopeful and I see a change in all – language and body language changes immediately.  It takes on many forms, e.g.  Anger, anxiety and isolation.

These are challenging effects that sometimes lead to violence.  This violence can end in destruction. When all this happens, progress slows down and a blame game begins. A few people find themselves calling back for pre 1994 policies and laws “saying that it was the best time”. A most worrying situation is to hear an eighteen year old wishing for pre 1994. When many of us panic, get frustrated or stressed, it leaves us unsettled to a point of losing something good. I believe we have been blessed by previous generations – people like Archbishop Oscar Romero, who after witnessing numerous violations of human rights, challenged his government to make changes.   Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, who worked in the slums of Calcutta, aiding the city’s poorest and sickest people saw a need to support them. Nelson Mandela who served 27 years in prison with other comrades, fought against Apartheid laws. These are a few of many.  They all looked at their own situations and acted with those who wanted to participate.

We are a nation that has gone through painful stuff, emotionally and mentally. What have we done about these situations, I think, is very little. What happens when very little is done – blame game is born.

The beauty of actively partaking is that it is for everyone, not only those with status. This, at the end, will help continue build our nation, whether at Church or community level. Good reflection will be valuable, because it will assist us to listen to one another for the purpose of growth. Let us go back to our words “motho ke motho ka batho ba bang” (South Sotho Proverb) “a person is a person through other people”, and move forward.

Ms Puleng Matsaneng
B.A. (Johannesburg)

Puleng works in Spirituality and researches Ignatian Spirituality in an African context. Her area of speciality is in exploring how African themes and practices of spirituality dialogue with the Western traditions, and how that is understood in relation to Ignatian Spirituality. She has looked at how Ignatian Spirituality can be integrated into the African worldview. Most especially, how the use of song and storytelling can be part of the prayer process. She is currently managing retreats in daily life and training prayer guides. Puleng is also involved in ongoing Spiritual Direction, giving 8-day and 30-day retreats. Her latest venture is a pilot programme of healing workshops that use the principles of Ignatian Spirituality.

p.matsaneng@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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