Timely message of hope
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.