Offended or Hurt…..that is the question
A couple of days back I put up the following Facebook status: I get the arguments about historical significance and reminders about where we have come from, but If even one person is genuinely hurting as a result of memorials, should there not be sufficient grace in us to let go of them. Nation building must start with compassion and understanding, this most often will require some minor sacrifice.
As a result of this I had several discussion with people around the topic, no, not about the statue of Rhodes, but rather the definition of hurt and offence. I have a fundamental belief that offence and hurt are different emotions completely. My belief is that people interchange these words, incorrectly, when they speak.
I have had many people offer that the reason the students where protesting is that they were offended. Indeed many of the students themselves used the word offended. In truth they have used incorrect words, or they have been pandered to by the administration at UCT. If they have simply been offended or found the statue “offensive” then taking it or any other symbol down is not the correct response. Education teaches us that offensiveness happens all of the time, it also empowers us to debate and grow. Education will help us formulate our responses and this will help to bolster discussion.
Hurt, on the other hand, is not simply undone by discussion and debate, hurt finds a root at a far deeper level and needs to be dealt with in a more “meaningful” way. Hurt robs one of logical thought and reason, it sees only the ills and struggles to make progress beyond this point. This was my reason for my status update. If there is genuine hurt, then the person or people group that have afflicted the pain need to have a softer stance, they need to say sorry. This may mean taking a physical object down. In response we need to see forgiveness – it cannot be one-sided. This is the grace they I speak about.
South Africa needs new and genuine demonstrations of grace on all sides of the arguments, that are currently happening. We need people to release relics of the past in the hope that we can build a future for all South Africans. We need to fill our grace tanks when we go into discussions, we need to “take a stroll in the shoes of others” in order to fully appreciate their lives. If we are to be meaningful South Africans, then we need to build with each other and not in our own “Safe silos”
We need learn again to say sorry and equally important is we need learn to give forgiveness.