The Challenge of Family Relationships

Our diversity dialogue on 2 June at Nokuphila was a small group but this lent itself to a more intimate conversation – the participants chose to dialogue about the challenge of family relationships. In a small group the question I sometimes ask myself as a facilitator is “Where is the diversity?” but we had exactly the diversity needed for the topic.

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Freedom

(A poem from the book Dwelling in Dissonance)

I wrote this poem after driving into Tembisa to facilitate a dialogue there…) 


Here

We live

in sanitized suburbia

Oblivious

to the many freedoms

we take for granted every day

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Poverty in South Africa

At our Diversity Dialogue on 5 May, the topic chosen by the participants was Poverty in South Africa. The theme of conflicting values came up throughout the dialogue. We realised there is a conflict between the values we aspire to generally for our society and what we are aiming to achieve ourselves, e.g. we want poverty alleviated as long as we don’t have to sacrifice something ourselves, as women we want leadership positions for ourselves but we don’t necessarily want women in authority over us, we want to encourage black people to value themselves but we prefer white teachers or schools for our children, we say we value menial labour as much as university careers but we are not willing to pay the salary that reflects that value.

 

 

How do we live with this inner conflict?

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What does it mean to be an African in South Africa?

This was the topic chosen by the participants during our April Diversity Dialogue.

The voices that emerged with a view on this topic were the voices of History, Emotions and Capitalism. History highlighted the continuing influence of Apartheid on this question. It was described as an echo that continues. This echo was a heaviness and discomfort we needed to step into. We explored possible ways of engaging with the echo, which included showing up, listening, looking, holding the space and serving in response. Capitalism recognised its relationship with the echo – the echo drives us to buy more to dull the echo and distract us from the discomfort.

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Land restitution without compensation

At our March Diversity Dialogue, the topic chosen was land restitution without compensation. We were a small group and as a result, Lungi facilitated this dialogue and I had the opportunity to participate. This feedback is the combined product of a facilitator’s point of view, as well as an interpretation through the lens of the voice of identity.

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Injustice in South Africa

At our last Diversity Dialogue the topic chosen by the participants was “Injustice in South Africa”. During the dreaming phase the group enthusiastically came up with a concrete picture of a just S.A. where justice could infiltrate every area of life with flourishing well-being. We knew what we were aiming for!

Just a few highlights from the dialogue: The voices of Power and Race dominated the beginning of the conversation as they so often do in the world we live in. In response a voice of Personal Transformation emerged, wanting to hear from the quieter voices in the room. At first nobody wanted to take the seat of the White Supremacist, although their role in the injustices of S.A. was recognised. One of the dialogue participation tips is to try out roles that are usually not our own. After some time, different people decided to take up the uncomfortable challenge and briefly spoke from this point of view. Others in the room voiced their frustration with the inability of the White Supremacy voice to move on, some wanting to enforce change. The voice responded that this pressure entrenched his wanting to fight back, or withdraw.

Personal Transformation cannot be forced. There must be another way…

A Tale of Two Dialogues

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – personally, I think any time is a good time for a dialogue about the issues that separate us as South Africans. A dialogue can of course only happen if there are people willing to invest their time in participating in one. Time is precious, we only have the present moment and we can only invest it once.

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Events Calendar

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