Black and White Lines

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Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford and Michael Brown these are the names of African-American men gunned down although these men were all unarmed. As a university student statistics is a course one has to pass in order to obtain a degree but looking at the above stats I was horrified at how in the blink of an eye a life becomes a statistic for study and in this techno age a hashtag to tweet about. It is no wonder it is said that the grave is the richest place on earth; these sentiments have resulted in an uproar in the Ferguson Community over the murder of an 18- year old African-American male Michael Brown who had aspirations of becoming a heating and cooling engineer.

On the 9th of August 2014 Brown was walking down Cranfield Green Avenue with a Dorian Johnson his close friend. The accounts of what happened on this dreadful night vary however the incident resulted in a unarmed 18-year old male murdered by a police office. The two friends are said to have been walking in the middle of the road when a police officer stopped them and demanded they walk on the sidewalk. The two young males refused, this aggravated the police officer who then shot at the boys, killing Brown who pleaded, insisting he was unarmed. This incident was followed by a slur campaign where Brown was painted as a troubled teenager, it was said on the night he was killed he and a friend had robbed a store stealing cigarettes. My problem with the slur campaign is that Brown was shot multiple times the intention of murder is evident, the slur campaign puts forward the notion of an unofficial death penalty at the hands of a police officer when he deems this the necessary course of action. The value of life is being treated like a stock price dependant on the precepts of the market, in this case the Ferguson police department being the market. Even so is the life of a troubled teenager of no value?

Martin Luther King stated, ““The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” These whirlwinds of protest have civilians in Ferguson once again weighed down by the weight of the pigmentation of their skin. This particular shooting is not an isolated incident with African-American black males being the victims. The land of the free remains bound by racial tensions despite the dreams of justice fought for by the forefathers of the land. The response by president Obama on this case was viewed as cautious by most community members who feel like they have their backs against the rope and in a system that reduces their voices to whispers protest has been deemed the only channel through which justice may be served. The very systems that are meant to protect are instead hunting and killing, is this the realisation that racial freedom is more than the destruction of systems but thoughts.

I recall a time when black and white were merely colours in my adolescent mind but now the mention of those very same words instantly evokes emotion as facial expressions begin to frown and ones demeanour changes. We speak of being free as a nation in the South African context. Laws have been abolished that once imprisoned us but however on a smaller scale incidents like “black face” locally and the up roar that followed, leave me wondering if we are mentally imprisoned by stereotypes that continue to persist. I was once told that situations do not evoke emotion but they bring to surface an undercurrent that always existed, it is the stirring of waters that were previously still.

In as much as I don’t think that the degree of racial tension in our nation could result in happenings similar to the Ferguson story , I do think this and many other incidents are highlighting the importance of open conversations to destruct these divides, invisible lines of segregation that continue to live in our minds. How, you may ask? The truth is I am not entirely sure. We often tend to view challenges such as racial tension as too big for an individual to have significant influence. I have come to realise that this view makes it so much easier to remain passive and feel no sense of obligation. I think it is time as citizens of South Africa that we take ownership of the racial divides that continue to persist in our circles of influence and we intentionally start conversations to deconstruct notions created by this on what may seem like a small scale. I am a firm believe that the collective of small actions can result in immense impact.

Self-discovery

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Maybe it’s learning God all over again and finding you in His eyes!!! May we never lose our wonder of Him and therefore who He has created us to be! In His image a reflection of beauty in so many ways! So may we each day strive to see a little clearer through the eyes that see beauty in ashes, that imagine all of creation and saw a group of fishermen as world changers!! You are beautiful in all Your ways!

Memory vs Imagination

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Memory lives in limits, limits of experience, limits of the past, limits of what is perceived as logical. Imagination is infinite it lives limitless in a world where boundaries don’t exist. Just because some of our greatest dreams are alive in our imagination it doesn’t mean they are not possible but when our memories are greater than our dreams we cease to live life in its fullness.

The Beauty of Today

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I think sometimes we are so focused on tomorrow that we miss today. I guess I’m learning to be present in moments and allow my faith to live in my tomorrows. After all these are the beginning blocks to the tomorrows we dreamt of.  The pursuit of our dreams is the beauty of trying, so I’m counting the days in moments not minutes. In the moments that the courage within me arises I will ride on the wave of that moment and release the words I have held hostage on the tip of my tongue. Freeing the dreams that seem irrational cause if a single flame can be ignited in just one heart I am convinced that a veld fire of hope is on the horizon. So my voice may shake, hey my entire being may be fearful of the possibility of not getting it right but I rob the world of value that I possess each time I shrink back, value hidden like a treasure in my DNA by my Maker. It is not just in me but it is in all of us as we are all created in His image. An Image that is the pinnacle of all solutions to the problems that probe us.  The pursuit of purpose is a journey of self-discovery, discovering the strength that you didn’t think was strong enough, discovering the idea that you didn’t think would be successful, discovering that it’s okay to change your mind, discovering that it’s okay to sometimes not have it all figured out because that births faith, discovering that it is okay to be unique because that is an indication of embracing our true selves, discovering that your story is worthy of being told, that you possess the ability to bring about change, discovery that you too can be great.

Today I saw the sun shine in a sky surrounded by clouds, I learnt how the presence of clouds does not stop your shine, it may not be as bright but it is still there. It sometimes requires conscious thought to remember that although blue skies may not be the backdrop that doesn’t mean it can’t still be beautiful with a little grey. I thought of the ocean and how it brushes the shore in all its strength and majesty, it reminded me of how sometimes in all our strength and passion we have to break our dreams into bite size. With each tide of the waves within us we reach a little further. I listened to the wind and felt it brush against my skin, it reminded me how stillness is not being stationary but it is something that happens within us.

There comes a moment in everyone’s life when the harmony of a life lived in our comfort zone is confronted by the tune of a melody distinct. A melody that doesn’t only tease our ears but grabs our hearts, it has our hearts and souls dancing rhythmically in unison. Somehow without being taught a single lyric to this melody it seems familiar but like nothing we have ever heard before. A tune that could soon become the soundtrack of the rest of our lives. This melody is the sound of a sweet symphony of all creation applauding the awakening of purpose. This moment is a defining moment, that changes the course of our lives and the only compass that can provide some form of direction is the Spirit of God that lives within us. Every belief that we thought we possessed now begins to possess us. Our hearts are taken captive and all selfish pursuits we thought were worthy of our lives are revealed as thieves of a purpose driven life. Our vision is clearer. In this moment the noise of the status-quo is drowned out by the silence that is so loud, of the beckoning of a life lived in its fullness.

I hope to one day write words that make pages come alive so today I choose to write after all we stop living when we stop doing things for fun. This is fun and I hope these words will spur us on in pursuing purpose, in believing in the beauty of our dreams, in living in moments and pausing to take it all in and just doing things for fun. All these little pieces of who we are start making the puzzle of who we are meant to be just a little clearer.  

Sharon O

I write of a world…

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It is indeed true that we cannot afford to remain silent about things that matter. The pen is mightier than the sword is not only a good quote. It speaks of how words can be a band aid to a scar exposed, of how words can be a flicker of faith to a bruised soul. In the eloquence of our sentences could lie LIFE!

I write of a world where scars heal and they begin to signify a battle that intended to kill her but she survived. I write of a world where like ashes after the fires of life, personified in his hand have burnt her, somehow her soul like ashes dancing in the wind, continues to rise! A world where inhumane acts are put to death because children deserve to grow up viewing the world as beautiful not tainted a shade darker , ugly, due to perpetrators who like thieves steal their innocence. Trespassers on territory that is not their own.
I write of a world where tears drawn from wells of pain wash her eyes and make her soul see clear, to see that she is not defined by his cowardice. Is this world a reality? Not entirely but the one reality I’m sure of is your strength. There is a strength engraved in the human soul, to defy odds, circumstances and even what seems like logic.
May each sunrise symbolize the rising of hope, the hope for a better day, the hope that is ashes rising from the fury of fires. I do not know your struggle but I know your strength! You are the beauty in ashes.

Sharon O

The lost Art of Ownership

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I found myself engaging in a casual conversation with friends on South Africa and the various issues the country faces. We spoke about the people of our country, and being Ugandan by decent in a joking manner I would refer to South African’s as ” their people “.

Perhaps this is the problem we are plagued with as a nation, a lack of OWNERSHIP. We have forgotten that these people, are our people and what people refer to as Africa, is our home.

We have some what become detached from the struggle of our fellow man, segregated by economic disparities. Perhaps we have become desensitised due to our familiarity with social evils, that are so prevalent in our society. We have subconsciously labeled acts of greed as norms of the modern day and marvel at those who stand for integrity as odd.

Ownership changes the way we approach resources, the care with which we address problems and take responsibility. I remember growing up being taught to respect all elders. In a full room it was only natural to stand up and allow an elder to sit down. The few times I would forget I remember mom’s voice , ” imagine if one of your friends treated me that way, how would you feel?”. That continues to be a sober realisation in the respect I try to display in the presence of elders.

Leadership is the foundation of a nation and if the heart is not operating at its optimal the body suffers. I am shocked at the action of leaders, who steal resources allocated to development of rural areas to further indulge excessively in luxuries. So maybe the problem with today’s leadership is that it is too self seeking. This is against the very design of leadership which should exemplify, one guiding a team or group of individuals in the pursuit of mutually beneficial goals. I believe in practicality but I also believe that sometimes the greatest leaders have chosen to abandon the practical for a cause greater them themselves, the people.

I look at men like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and the greatest of these revolutionaries Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus was the epitome of leadership. A “man” who literally died for the cause of His people. Taking on our sinful nature that would result in the restoration of man to God. A friend to the outcast, the poor and the wealthy.

So I choose to take ownership of my dreams and integrate the dreams of others within my own, after all people’s destinies depend on us pursuing our purpose.

Sharon O

Dear Old, Dear New, Dear Future

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Dear Old

You bare a deep well of memories that often wash over my heart and make it beat slightly out of rhythm.
The spontaneous moments that were priceless, as they were open to expectation, experiencing the unexpected. You taught me the beauty in both sunrises and sunsets. They are mutually exclusive but the one indicates the other is on the horizon.  You bare memories of tears with lessons hidden in the curvature of their caress on my cheeks,treasures. Discouragement from the what if’s, should have beens and could have beens but in the same breath the ability to trust the Architect of my forever.

I frequently find myself reminiscing on the triumphs intertwined in your memory. I saw glimpses of possibilities and pieces of God in the people who Crossed my path. The achievements engraved in the history of yesterday. But see today I can no longer live relative to yesterday. I say goodbye as I read through Isaiah 43 verse 19 ” Behold I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth ; do you perceive and know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ”

I am grateful ….

Dear New

I am excited. I’m learning to live in the moment and dig deep into the details of each encounter to find significance. I guess this is what some would simply label “over thinking “. The beauty of perspective. I’m learning that life isn’t always black and white. It is the grey that is uncomfortable, that ruffles our feathers and challenges our convictions.

Your like a perfect picture and I’m scared of coloring outside the lines. I am challenged. It’s time that the insights on paper, pages I have read and scriptures I confess become actions. Too often we learn more than we become. I am clay in the Potter’s hands.

There’s no formula to happiness sometimes we just need to choose to be happy.I will make the dreams I dream when I’m wide awake part of my daily existence. That I may not live in the future, having not been present in moments.

I want to empty the balance from my account of life. Spend wisely on things that matter,people. That the wealth of my life may be the gift of Hope.

I am ready….

Dear Future

I am hopeful! It is the possibility of dreams coming true that exhillarates me. POSSIBILITY and the gift of time that you possess. That time accompanied with selfless pursuits could make the world a little better for someone. I do not know much about you but I find peace in knowing God is already there. You have to be great. So many people are depending on you.

I am expectant….

Sharon O