Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Nation is on Holiday.

Today - December 16 - has been a South African public holiday for all of my life.

I knew it as "Dingaan's Day": a celebration of a Boer victory over a Zulu army. At school I was taught how a handful of boers defended their wagons against the "advancing hoards of warriors". It was many years later that I discovered that they were also greatly assisted by a canon, that decimated the spear-and-shield armed warriors.

Then it became the Day of the Vow, and was used as a day to rally national pride for the white Afrikaner people. The unifying theme for the day was how God had honoured a vow of loyalty to God made by the Boers. This vow somehow bound God to the political cause of Afrikaans nationalists. This then provided spiritual energy to a racist ideology. The rest of the nation used this day for a breather in the headlong rush to the end of the year.

Now it is the Day of Reconciliation. The idea is for us as a nation to bridge the divisions of our past and build a new future together. Politicians still use this day for political rallies. But the vast majority of the nation will find our unity in the great shrines of mammon as we shop our frenetic way towards Christmas.

Pray that we can somewhere pause and be reminded that we cannot spend our way to peace and joy. These qualities are better available when Jewish shepherds, Zoroastrian wise men, and a polygot melange of the world's people gather at a manger to share their common humanity.
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