Nurturing Understanding

While nurturing understanding it is vital to understand how the principles and dynamics of fear, ignorance, hate, prejudice, power, respect, pride, dignity, acceptance, insecurity and self-righteousness drive people’s lives in the real world. It becomes imperative to acknowledge the permanency of those you are divided from and to understand that the opponent will not just vanish even if you have won the victory. Nelson Mandela and the leaders of the new South Africa had the wisdom to realize and acknowledge this historical reality and had the will to make their enemy their friend.

Understanding begins with the recognition that one is capable of doing the same things that the ‘other’ is accused of and must be willing to admit and recognize one’s own mistakes so that similar mistakes are not committed. In a sense, it is fundamental to get biblical about evil; and hence the realization that it is the principalities of evil that is preventing understanding. By confronting the principalities of evil such as fear, hatred, prejudice, jealously, pride, arrogance and so on, it makes space for God to change the lives of people. In essence it implies that people are redeemable when the principalities of evil are confronted with truth, justice and mercy.

It is however true that understanding cannot be nurtured when there is the ‘foot on the neck.’ The historical foot of injustice must be addressed. Is that not the weakness of many processes when the powers that be want understanding by letting bygones be bygones, and still have their foot on the necks of those they are suppressing? Understanding demands a new way of life and removing the foot on the neck.

Any deliberate intention towards understanding involves a prime mover to initiate the process. Interestingly, the greatest moments in history have been those when people who have been wronged and hurt have with amazing grace and generosity taken the first step to initiate the restoration of human understanding and relationship. It takes courage because understanding cannot take place at a distance, it requires the parties to meet and encounter each other. This must take place no matter how uncomfortable the parties may feel, as it helps break down communication barriers and build ground for the truth to be shared and acknowledged without fear. Understanding is achieved on one honest shared history. Truth-telling is essential in building trust and confidence and in restoring a basis for restorative justice to be reinstated because evil cannot be confronted and prevented by retributive concepts of justice. It becomes essential that the power of decision-making should be located within the people that are seeking to establish understanding. Understanding is a revolutionary concept that defies human feelings of hate, prejudice and vengeance by restoring meaning, to the idea of equality.