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.
Response to pain
Call to action
Expression of power
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 poem from the book “Dwelling in Dissonance”)
Not an accusation
No verdict expected
Not an attack
“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.