Timely mes­sage of hope

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

THE words of the fa­mous English Poet, Rud­yard Ki­pling, who lived in the years 1865-1935, could have been most ap­po­site, when he wrote the in­spi­ra­tional poem: “IF”.

He wrote, in part; “If you can keep your heads when all about you are los­ing theirs and blam­ing it on you. If you can trust your­self when all men doubt you, But make al­lowance for their doubt­ing too: If you can wait and not be tired by wait­ing, Or, be­ing lied about, don’t deal in lies.

Or yet hated don’t give way to hat­ing, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: and he con­cluded: “Yours is the Earth and ev­ery­thing that’s in it. And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!”

I am quot­ing this fa­mous poem ex­ten­sively in ap­pre­ci­a­tion and def­er­ence to the pas­toral let­ter from the Head of churches of the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho re­gard­ing es­ca­lat­ing cases of mur­der in the coun­try. The pas­toral let­ter is in con­so­nance with Ki­pling’s sem­i­nal poem if Le­sotho is to reach any mod­icum of pros­per­ity and peace, if our lead­ers, gov­ern­ment and peo­ple heed it.

The first of the four verses of Ki­pling’s poem en­cap­su­late eight (8) ba­sic virtues and mis­chiefs that can ei­ther break or make our na­tion in th­ese most try­ing times of mur­der and vi­o­lence. Th­ese are in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, (1) calm­ness, (2) tol­er­ance, (3) ar­ro­gance, (4) con­fi­dence, (5) pa­tience, (6) lies, (7) ha­tred and (8) hu­mil­ity.

Ki­pling con­tents that over­all, if we re­main level-headed and calm de­spite all the odds that are ranged against us, then he con­cludes, all the earthly riches will be ours.

In­deed we need po­lit­i­cal ma­tu­rity and tol­er­ance of each other in th­ese try­ing times when there are ele­ments that seem hell-bent on push­ing the coun­try over the precipice.

The pas­toral let­ter of the Heads of Churches of the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho there­fore has come at the most ap­pro­pri­ate time in our col­lec­tive moral fi­bre and con­science when there are ele­ments that seem­ingly prowl among us killing and un­leash­ing vi­o­lence with ab­so­lute im­punity.

There is no deny­ing that it is the Chris­tian call­ing of our spir­i­tual lead­ers to call us to or­der and re­spect the sanc­tify of hu­man life. This mes­sage from the most revered of our moral lead­ers is to be most wel­come.

This is be­cause they are nei­ther repos­i­to­ries of leg­isla­tive, nor po­lit­i­cal power to lead us from this seem­ingly dan­ger­ous and slip­pery road to self-de­struc­tion. Rather they hold the moral and spir­i­tual high grounds to ad­mon­ish us against the spec­tre of vi­o­lence and death that we have un­leashed on de­fence­less in­no­cent peo­ple that are all cre­ated in the im­age of God.

I have no doubt in my mind that this moral les­son that is con­veyed by the pas­toral let­ter will reach fer­tile ground so that it may yield pos­i­tive re­sults abound with peace, re­spect for hu­man life and dig­nity.

Of crit­i­cal im­por­tance is that this let­ter has been au­thored by lead­ers of the so-called main­stream churches but it also cuts across the imag­i­nary faith bar­rier by call­ing upon all peo­ple ir­re­spec­tive of their faith to re­spect hu­man life and dig­nity.

It no doubt calls on the ma­jor­ity Chris­tians to take heed and act ac­cord­ingly but it also calls upon the faith­ful from other re­li­gions in Le­sotho, ir­re­spec­tive of their mi­nor­ity sta­tus, to take heed and de­sist from vi­o­lence and mur­der. In­deed as the lead­ers rightly point out, it is not only the duty of the state to pro­tect the peo­ple in its ter­ri­tory but it is also the duty of ev­ery­one else, pa r t i c ul ar l y those vi­o­lent peo­ple to de­sist from their vi­o­lent path and turn to na­tion­build­ing and take part in the eco­nomic devel­op­ment of Le­sotho.

The right to life and free­dom from in­hu­man treat­ment, are not only God-given rights that are in­alien­able but also guar­an­teed by the law of man. Con­sti­tu­tions through­out the civ­i­lized world have cod­i­fied th­ese rights and no­body has the au­thor­ity to vi­o­late them.

Granted some coun­tries, Le­sotho in­cluded, have pro­vi­sions un­der which such rights can be vi­o­lated how­ever, it is de­bat­able whether this is in keep­ing with the mod­ern trend even if such vi­o­la­tions are state-sanc­tioned through the courts. In this re­gard, I am talk­ing about the death penalty and can­ing, which are in our law but this be­longs to another de­bate as to their pro­pri­ety.

Skep­tics and doom­say­ers might fool­ishly crit­i­cize the church lead­ers for voic­ing their con­cerns about vi­o­lence and ad­mon­ish­ing not only the faith­ful but the en­tire na­tion against vi­o­lence. They will stupidly ar­gue that this is the arena of politi­cians. My re­sponse to them is that th­ese lead­ers epit­o­mize our col­lec­tive moral fab­ric and con­science as a God-fear­ing na­tion whose so­cial fab­ric ought to be jeal­ously pro­tected.

They are cho­sen by God to lead us to moral rec­ti­tude and so­cioe­co­nomic devel­op­ment. They have a moral and Chris­tian (re­li­gious) duty to call all of us to or­der when we hur­tle speed­ily off the rails to perdi­tion and eter­nal ruin. To ar­gue that they are en­ter­ing the po­lit­i­cal arena is very much as mis­lead­ing as it is un­for­tu­nate. Only the big­oted and the unini­ti­ated can ob­ject to this pas­toral call­ing from the lead­ers of our moral val­ues and con­science.

The over-used cliché that: “Evil thrives when good men keep quite, “is quite ap­po­site in cir­cum­stances like th­ese. The evils of mur­der, and vi­o­lence that dis­re­spect the sanc­tify of hu­man life ought to be con­demned by all God-fear­ing and peace-lov­ing peo­ple. The spec­tre of the cul­ture of vi­o­lence and killing that has en­gulfed our so­ci­ety calls on our re­li­gious lead­ers to call us all to or­der, I dare, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment. Le­sotho has seem­ingly de­gen­er­ated into a na­tion founded on vi­o­lence. We have demon­stra­bly turned our backs on peace and tol­er­ance which our na­tion is so much through­out the world known for.

The mes­sage of ad­mon­ish­ment calls on ped­dlers of ha­tred, lies and vi­o­lence to de­sist from their evil deeds.

In line with their call­ing the lead­ers have rightly in­voked the Holy Scrip­ture to make us aware of our duty to fel­low man, who are equally cre­ated in the im­age of God and de­serve and are en­ti­tled to en­joy the ben­e­fits of God’s earthly cre­ations. No in­di­vid­ual or group of in­di­vid­u­als has a (divine) right to pre­vent, kill and as­sault oth­ers in their en­joy­ment be­stowed by God.

The in­vi­o­la­bil­ity of ba­sic hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms is a prin­ci­ple that is rec­og­nized in pri­mar­ily the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, the Con­ven­tion on Eco­nomic, So­cial and Cul­tural Rights, the African Char­ter on Hu­man and Peo­ple’s Rights, and an end­less list of other in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions, treaties and in­stru­ments to which Le­sotho is a sig­na­tory.

As ear­lier stated there­fore, for all peo­ple to pros­per and leave peace­fully with fel­low man, the right to life and free­dom from in­hu­man treat­ment and vi­o­lence ought to be cher­ished and re­spected.

Peace-lov­ing peo­ple across the re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal spec­trum in­clud­ing politi­cians and gov­ern­ment ought to warmly em­brace the pas­toral let­ter of the Heads of Churches. The church, as the spir­i­tual leader of the na­tion has spo­ken and ours across all per­su­a­tions and colours or gen­der have to fol­low with­out ques­tion.

If only we can em­brace this clar­ion mes­sage of peace and san­ity, then ours will be a peace­ful and pros­per­ous na­tion.


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