Thursday, October 7, 2010

briefly, on poverty

Last March, Bethany Bible School hosted a workshop on Farming God’s Way as a means to addressing a serious problem in the Eastern Cape: the non-use or mis-use of farmland in a context of hunger and poverty. Indeed, though many people from the rural areas are unemployed, neither are they working their land. While some are all too eager to attribute the problem to “the laziness of the people”, others—such as one friend who provided valuable insights to me over the course of conversations last week—refuse to accept sloth as a thing to be taken for granted in any human being. Rather, he says, causes related to the history of oppression underlie the appearance of laziness. In particular, he noted how enduring is the association of farming with oppression in the people’s minds. Farming was not something the people did for themselves; it was what they did for the white “boss” who reaped from their labor as they eked out a meager existence. The memory of such a life can be a deterrent to forging a new life from the land when one is finally “free” to work his own land. Of course, historical explanations such as these can serve the cause of fatalism no less than racist biological arguments can; nevertheless, they can also aid our understanding, patience, and compassion as we proclaim, against all hopelessness, the dignity of every human being in the sight of God.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is so interesting. I can somewhat understand where they're coming from because in Chile have significant traces of sociopolitical wounds.

    Take care!