By Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
The crises that have overtaken the world in the recent past and which continue to rain havoc upon your people reveal how much lies in the realm of what we don’t know. Suddenly, it has dawned upon us that so much is hidden from the human mind. But we know that what is hidden from us is not hidden from you. We know also that you reveal secrets to those who seek you and acknowledge their limitations in always finding the correct solutions.
And so we pray that you raise leaders that are prepared to right the many wrongs that have beset us for so long, so that good may prevail over evil; equity over selfishness; integrity over hypocrisy; and fair play over greed and recklessness.
As the crises intensify, those who have will be tempted to hold on to what they have, become less generous and ignore even more the realities of the weak and vulnerable. So we pray that you do not lead them into that temptation but deliver them from their selfish tendencies and endow them with changed attitudes and new lenses through which to view the world. This way they may come to the realization that they are only stewards of the resources you have given to us. Unless they put these resources to the service of others, their accumulated value becomes corrupted, rusts and fades, ultimately losing much, if not all, their luster and market value at the stock exchange, in a twinkling of an eye. Dear God, we have seen it all happen before our very eyes.
We also pray that while the so-called ‘perfect storm’ rages on, the spirit of Ubuntu will prevail. You have taught us that true religion is to care for the widows and the orphans and all who are weak, vulnerable and in distress; who eke out a precarious living and barely survive. Through these crises you have focused attention on their plight by, in a strange way, threatening the complacency of those who have lived in comfort and by and large ignored the plight of the man, woman and child “who has fallen by the wayside”. As in the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’, they have passed by on the other side when children slept hungry, fed from rubbish heaps or died of malaria. Occasionally they have thrown a few alms in the form of aid, but without thinking deeply about the consequences of their actions or inactions. Often, they have hardly bothered to know how much of what they have given reaches the intended beneficiaries, which in the donor world, has become “holy ground”.
The gap between what is promised and what is given and that between inputs and outcomes, like the gap between the rich and the poor, is always widening. This is against your laws of love, kindness, justice and equity and our African spirit of Ubuntu.
Through these crises the plight of the over 1 billion people who live in exclusion, poverty and hunger and whose dignity is on the rocks has become a near-reality for those who live and pass on “the other side” in relative comfort and luxury. We pray, not that you take away this comfort completely, but that the lessons of the global meltdown may lead to a return to solidarity and the spirit of sharing for both the local and global community.
So we pray. Amen
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane is the President and Founder of the African Monitor and former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.