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What if you’re dealt the JOKER card?

“How is it possible that one human can slaughter another human like that?”. Comments like these are thrown around after school killings, mass shootings and murders Have you had thoughts like this one? Well, how is it possible…

It is difficult to accurately communicate the subtleties and nuances that moulds a developing mind, but certainly the person that you become is the result of innumerable, minute and often unseen events in your life that interacts with your body, your DNA. It is difficult to describe psychological wounds and accurately communicate the tremendous disabling effects they have on a person’s life. One only sees the behaviour of people, which is most of the time an inappropriate reaction to the trauma. One often need to look deeper to see them. The movie ‘JOKER’ managed to communicate this exceptionally well – as art often does. While it might come easy for some to understand the root of people’s behaviour, others might find it more laborious to understand. The director definitely succeeded in creating a sense of empathy for a person that would otherwise have been labelled some name and dismissed as another sorrowfully, mad criminal. It is almost impossible not to feel some kind of empathy for the main character after having killed two bullies on a subway station watching the condemning crowd and the highly fascinated media on television. Yet that is what most of us would have been doing. This time around, however, we know the story behind the criminal, the person behind the mask, and it changed our perceptions and affected our feelings.

What about the story behind the person on the news that got sentenced to life for murder. It is broadcasted as a victory and brings great joy to the crowd outside the court room. It might equally be a victory for justice as it is a failure of society. This is another fact that this movie shed light on so effectively – not all bad guys were born bad. Some were made. Because criminals come from communities I feel that each time someone from our midst gets sentenced to prison, each of us should be reflecting on what we could have done to prevent it! How did we associate with the boy at school that got bullied for being poor, odd and different, because his mother was mentally ill, father in and out of jail and moved from one school to another as his parents failed to pay his school fees? How do we see the person visiting a psychologist or taking psychiatric meds? Sure, we cannot prevent everything, but did we play our part? It is easier to become angry and condemn than it is to reflect on the broken villain inside us.

I believe the reason that so many people go out to watch this movie is because it projects so much of our repressed selves onto something as acceptable as a cinema screen – whether it be pain, loneliness, chaos, fear or a longing for empathy – and brings some sense of connectedness and relief with it. A few years ago Batman was the hero and we identified with him, because he wanted to get rid of the bad guys; today, seemingly, many people feel more like the misunderstood and broken villain. None of us chose our cards, we all play the hand we have, good or bad, as best we can.

It got me thinking about those in South Africa that got dealt the ‘Joker-card’ as well. Those ones pitching up with weapons at schools or sniffing glue at the traffic lights or murdering their own loved ones? If the fragile soul of a child can be injured so easily by emotionally absent parents (eg. because of mental illness), inconsistent parenting, ostracism or purely by being treated differently, then how devistated must the souls of those children be who grew up here in poverty, violent neighbourhoods and lacked adequate access to education and health care – in other words…around 4 million South African children (1). We seriously need to change our mindset regarding the prevention of crime, as well as mental illness in this country. We need a huge effort and very soon. 

So, how to play the cards? Let’s all walk away from our defences and start addressing the hurt and chaos inside; let’s have empathy with ourselves. This would effect a greater change around us. Let’s look at our own mental health, and get treatment for our own wounds. Listen to each other. Or let’s just be nice to our neighbour in general. Let’s advocate for good morals, prioritising family, compassion for the marginalised. Society’s moral standard should be measured by how good they take care of their children and of their mentally ill…

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References

  1. Hall, K., Sambu, W., Berry L., Giese, S., Almeleh, C. and Rosa, S. (2016). South African Early Childhood Review 2016. Cape Town: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town and Ilifa Labantwana.
  2. https://psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/11/23/joker-the-movie-a-character-analysis

Know hope

Hopelessness is a lie; the place where there is no hope doesn’t exist.

It is a bold statement to make and you could be in a situation where you believe you do not have a way out, and you could tell me that you are indeed hopeless. It is tricky writing to a general audience, because everybody’s story is different, but it does not matter where you come from, everyone that is hopeless is in the same place – a place with seemingly no way out. The poor could say that ‘you are not in my shoes’, but so can the rich person suffering from a terminal illness. You could argue that someone that hasn’t been abused like you were wouldn’t understand, but that person could be bullied at school or simply have inherited a depressive disorder; and experience the same hopelessness.

If we created our own hope, we would be able to lose it, but we can’t. We create our own replicas of hope, most of which are temporary. When fame, money, sex, health or success is achieved and it failed to bring us what we thought it would, we experience feelings of hopelessness, because hope turned out to look differently than we thought it would. Hope (and hopelessness) results from the culminating effects of our genes, physiological processes, temperament, character, mood, support structures, value systems, faith and all the other facets of being human and therefore addressing only a part of this probably won’t be sufficient to regain hope. This is, for example, why the psychiatric fraternity base their approach to clinical situations on the bio-psycho-social and spiritual model of disease.

I write with respect towards your experience of suffering, because it is a personal experience. This is about the objective truth, separated from your experience, that we lose sight of and we need others to remind us of this. So, the reality is that we all had different paths and life happened – often with dire consequences and we all ended up in the same final pathway of hopelessness. Some missed the ways out on their way here and others took the short detour to riches and connected to this path only later. Maybe some needed to pass through to find the real, deep-seated longings of their hearts. What now?

Well, if we were to climb up to heaven or lie down in the grave, travel as far east or fly west as we could, still we would find no place where the presence of God is absent. This is according to David’s psalm probably written after fleeing for his life from the King or being caught for adultery and murder, or the death of one of his newborn children. If this is true, then there can not be a place where there is no hope. If God is, there is hope. In fact, I believe it is because of hope that we are here and still living and if we are alive, then there is work prepared for our hands – before we were even here. You would have to shut your eyes not to see the sunset, or close your nose not to smell the flowers or close your mouth not to taste the food. If you have not lost hope due to suffering, you would probably have to choose to be blind not to see. If it is so that God is, then this breath you breathed was teeming with hope. Then your cells busy replicating, making way for the new at this moment becomes a moment full of hope. Then the sparrow eating from the ground outside is a sign of hope.

I will struggle to show this and bring hope to someone who has chronic pain, but someone who walked that path of chronic pain may be able to. The poor will be better helped by someone who carved a way out of his own poverty. And once he has succeeded in helping him out of poverty he might find a valuable truth – that one of the greatest expressions of hope is you sharing yours.

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Beyond a gospel of prosperity

The people we follow says a lot about ourselves. What is said at the church you attend? What does your heart yearn for when you drive to church?

Have you seen how some Sunday sermons are advertised? I’ve seen some lines reading: ‘Come experience Jesus’, ‘God wants to bless you’, and I’ve heard phrases such as: ‘You know, you need to demand the healing that God already died for’. None of these statements are necessarily wrong, and millions of people worldwide are building their faith and are leaning on these promises. The ultimate goal or the road leading there is, sadly, explained less clearly. We then end up yearning for the manna from heaven, but not the desert; the miracles, but not the suffering. We pursue nets full of fish and mis the Fisherman on the shore; bread and then we mis the Bread of life. We stop and settle for less and remain tired and hungry or eventually end up ever so unfulfilled. This is evident from our religious establishments who fell into a consumeristic model. It left many coming back for more of the same or leaving, because they didn’t get what they were yearning for.

Jesus offered more than this. He declared that whoever believed in Him would never be thirsty. The soul can be satisfied at a level beyond the satisfaction of biological desires. Peter realised this after returning tired and hungry from an unsuccessful all-night fishing expedition on the same sea where he was first called a few years earlier. After a multitude of fish were miraculously caught on Jesus’ command he leaped over the net full of silver fish into the water and swam/ran to the shore. When he first started following Jesus, he might have yearned for recognition, a better social status, miracles or sustenance, but this time all of that could wait. The miracle was left behind, because the miracle pointed to the miracle-Worker – and he wanted to be close to Him. He found something beyond the pursuit of prosperity.

There is something different about those people who are satisfied. They are usually not easily offended; they are long-suffering and they seem at peace, unlike those who still need more. Which person are you? Do you need more? Or do you need nothing more but Jesus?

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References:

  1. John 6:35
  2. John 21

📸: Jaco Koekemoer

Die Terminale Wond

Geplant in ń tuin

Gebaar in die grond

Veilig geslaap

In die Moeder se grot

Ingeblaas en uitgeasem

Saam gewees en saam gewerk

Gesondig en geban

Want ń vyand kort ń held

Gebloei by die ‘verlossing’

Geskree by die gelag

Met ń letsel wat herinner

Aan dit waarna ons smag

ñ Bevalling uit die hemel

ñ Geboorte vir die graf

Opgeneem, lewenslank

Sonder ń ontslag

ñ Terminale siekte

Afgesny, geskei

Die laaste diagnose

Wat ons almal aan moet ly

Die lewe is die wond

Los gesny van God

Die lewe is die wond

En die dood maak weer gesond

Die pyn is om te groei

Maar swaarkry kweek weer hoop

ń Held wat bloei, dan sterf

Maak heelaas die grot weer oop

So was die gees se sterfte

Die eerste vlees-bevalling

En die eerste vlees-begrafnis

Die gees se wedergeboorte

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Oorvloed of Genoeg?

‘Mag die Here die sluise oop maak en ons kerk seën’

 Kerklede verdien ń totaal van $42 trillion per jaar

‘Ek het nog nooit my tiende vir die Kerk gegee sonder om terug te ontvang nie’

  Daardie kerklede gee 1,67% daarvan aan die Kerk

‘Geniet die tyd saam met jul familie in hierdie Kersseisoen’

   Dit is $700 biljoen – dieselfde hoeveelheid wat aan kersfees jaarliks spandeer word in VSA

‘Die Here het voorsien in ons projek om ń nuwe kerk gebou op te rig’

    6,4% daarvan gaan na sendingwerk

‘Ons sê dankie Here vir die twee nuwe skerms’

     96% hiervan gaan aan die pastorale bediening

‘Ons sê dankie God vir die nuwe stoele en vloere’

      2,9% gaan aan tuis sending

‘Ek voel mens kan nie sending werk gaan doen as jy nie duidelik geroep is nie’

       Dus bereik 0,001% van die Kerk die onbereiktes

‘Ek het die Naam van Jesus Christus oor-en-oor belei totdat ek die werk gekry het’

        Sowat 2,84 billion mense het nog nie die Naam van Jesus Christus gehoor nie

‘Belê saam met ons in die werk van die Here om uit te ruik na die haweloses in die stad’

         90% van Suid Afrikaners verdien minder as R7000 per maand

‘ń Visioen van Jesus het my beveel om ń kerk op te rig in die middestad’

          Al die onbereikte volke kan bereik word as christene 0,03% van hul inkomste gee

‘God wil hê dat ons die lewe ook geniet’

           Die hoeveelheid geld wat onbereiktes bereik is dieselfde as wat VSA spandeer op troeteldiere vir halloween

‘Vertrou God vir daardie ses getal pay-tjek’

             40% van die wêreld leef op minder as $1,40

Hierdie is nie gebaseer op enige spesifieke kerk of mens nie, eerder die Wêreldwye Kerk

Statistieke is meestal gebasseer op Amerikaanse data

Verwysings:

MESSAGEMINISTRIES.ORG.

Incontextinternational.

MINDTHEGAP,UCT.

Grond: Gee jy of neem jy?

Twee rye spore vorm in die klam grond as God saam Adam die welige tuin instap. Hy is besig om Hom al die lappies grond te wys wat hy bewerk het vir die nuwe landerye wat hy beplan. Dis die land van Eden, die stukkie grond wat God afgemerk het waarop die perfekte lewe kon afspeel – in liefdevolle verhouding met Sy skepping.

Maar dit was nie lank voor Adam sy eie begeertes volg en weg dwaal van God nie. Hy begeer mag en verloor die grond. God gaan soek na Sy wandel maat en vind hom in ń toestand van sonde en sit hom dan self van die grond af om ander grond te gaan bewerk. Dit was meer as Adam se land gewees, dit is waar hy in vervulling gelewe het – iets waarna hy altyd sou verlang.

Die mens skraap vir homself koninkryke bymekaar en hou aan sy eie begeertes volg. Sy begeerte na mag dryf hom al verder van God af. Maar God probeer elke keer iets nuuts om oor te begin met ons. Eers die sondvloed, dan Sodom en Gomorra. Uiteindelik word Abraham geroep om sy grond te verlaat en as vlugtelinge word ń volk gebore uit hom. Hy lei die volk uit slawerny en gee hulle die wet. Die wet wys dat Eden nog in God se hart klop. Tussen ryke waar selfsug en losbandigheid heers en kinders geoffer word, leer Hy mense van respek, eerbied; omsien na weeskinders en weduwees; en vertroue op Hom alleen…daarom dat al die volke naderhand gevul is met eerbied vir die God van Israel. Vir lank besit Israel geen grond nie, maar trek ander na God toe.

Mettertyd dwaal hulle van die wet en hou hul hulself besig met hul eie begeertes en die Israeliete word ballinge – tot die tyd van die Messias. In ń tyd van Godsdiens, offers en rituele stuur God sy Seun as perfekte offer om die weg te baan na Hom. Die Seun van die mens kom bewandel Sy eiendom, maar self besit Hy niks nie. Steeds trek Hy baie mense na God toe. Eden klop steeds in God se hart – ‘kom wandel saam My’. Hy is die Weg terug na God toe en Hy leer Sy dissipels saam Hom wandel.

Na Hy weg is word Sy dissipels deur vervolging verstrooi oor die aarde, en as vlugtelinge bring hulle die boodskap van versoening waar ook al hulle beland. Hulle verkondig die Weg na God – sodat mense weer kan wandel saam met God.

Vir eeue gee sendelinge hulle huise, hulle grond op om na vreemde lande te gaan met dieselfde doel – om grond te gee, die grond van Eden, waarop mense kan wandel, saam met God – dis die boodskap van versoening. Te danke hieraan pluk baie mense die vrugte van ń nuwe lewe, in Suid Afrika ook, soos hulle saam God wandel. Ongelukkig was daar ook die mense wat na ander lande gegaan het met selfsugtige begeertes – om grond te neem, by ander, en ryk te word uit hulle hulpbronne. Hulle verrig baie skade en daarom die ongelykheid in die land, die seer.

So het jy grond? Wandel jy gereeld? Deel jy dit met ander? Gee jy of neem jy? Ek is van mening dat die paradys nie die grond is wat ons ontvang nie, maar die Persoon saam wie ons wandel. En ek kan myself nie indink hoe ons saam God kan wandel sonder om meer respek vir almal om ons te hê en hulle ook meer spasie te gun nie, want grond is aan ons almal geleen.

Let op: God gebruik Sy vlugteling volk, Sy Seun wat nie ń plek het om Sy kop neer te lê nie, Sy vervolgde disspels en sendelinge om Sy grond vir ons terug te gee, sodat ons saam Hom kan wandel – want Eden klop steeds in Sy hart.

 

Reënloper

Reënloper – ń dissipel, maak nie saak hoe die weer lyk nie…

Kies om te stap waar niemand anders stap nie…

Hy bly naby aan die donderweer,

Hy verdwaal eerder – weer en weer.

 

Stort sy lewe oral uit,

Sy voetspoor in die modder bly.

Kies om buite vuil te raak,

Kies dat reën hom skoon moet maak.

 

Hy gaan nie waar die klokke lui nie,

Hy gaan nie in hul ritme bly nie.

Reënloper los die kerk-lawaai,

Hy gaan eerder waar die Wind hom waai.