“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.
This was the topic chosen by the participants at our last Diversity Dialogue of this year.
At these dialogues, people choose to represent different voices or points of view that are relevant to the topic. The voice of white apology set the emotional tone for the dialogue by speaking early on in the process, recognising the pain experienced by the voice of black inferiority and admitting to its own complicity in and benefit from the system. Regret and repentance were expressed. This opened the door to a different level of communication and relationship between the voices of white supremacy and black inferiority, with less provocation of black pain and anger. When an older black gentleman spoke from both white supremacy and black inferiority, it was clear that these two views usually come together. People from different backgrounds recognised how strong the hold of white supremacy still is, even in those who oppose its power.
As a facilitator of regular dialogues, I seldom get the opportunity to participate in a dialogue myself. I think it is one of the most important things I can do for my own personal growth. When I do get a chance to do so, I am probably more self-aware than what I used to be before I started facilitating. My latest experience of being “just one of the group” inspired these thoughts…
I have a
voice of personal
I represent more
than an isolated
Dialogue needs diversity.
As a white person living in South Africa I have been confronted with issues that have not always been easy to process. I have felt uncomfortable, and I have been challenged. However, I believe that we are put in places of discomfort so that we can grow.
Writing my poetry takes me on a journey through the thoughts and feelings that daily life here evokes in me. It creates the space that allows me to have an honest look at character traits that I aspire to – like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I often conclude that the opportunity to develop these traits, is at such a time where choosing the opposite is the easy way out. Only when I am put under some pressure can they emerge in me.