The Reflections on Easter article below was published in The Start on 17April 2014.
Good Friday, the holiest day on the Christian calendar, would be a pretty sombre occasion if it were not followed almost immediately by Easter Sunday, the most joyous of all religious celebrations emphasising the triumph of life over death.
More than 2000 years after Christ’s death, the wonder of his Resurrection continues to enthrall millions across the globe. Ester Sunday is the one day of the year churches are packed, when people make an effort to give thanks for life – and hope.
That is what Easter is essentially about. Easter bunnies may entertain children with chocolate eggs and housewives prepare special meals for family and friends, but at the heart of the celebrations lies the Resurrection and Christ’s message. No message could be more relevant.
When a new democratic South Africa came into being 20 years ago, the world rejoiced with us. We were an example to emulate, a country that proved it was possible to resolve major issues without resorting to war. A new constitution was negotiated, with Nelson Mandela and former President FW de Klerk awarded Nobel Peace Prizes. South Africa basked in world approval.
But, like countries worldwide, problems inevitably emerged. The crime rate soared, with rape and abuse of women particularly disturbing. Then the world economy took a dip and, along with other countries, South Africans lost jobs while tens of thousands of school leavers remained unemployed. Worse, corruption became a source of major concern. As bad, generations of racism had left its scar.
Yet, for all our problems, we survived the transition to democracy relatively unscathed – unlike places such as Egypt, Syria, Sudan and even Ukraine where populations have been displaced, many killed in riots while countless others remain uncertain of their future.
South Africans, however, have proved to be a hardy lot. Their love of country is manifest in the countless ways people of all races are working to make the country a bette rplace. Their stories, told both in print and on television, reveal the impact ordinary people are making on society.
Stable family life is seen as a vital component in fostering a better world. Parents who emphasise moral values and speak respectfully of others inevitably set an example their children follow. Moral attributes – such as honesty, integrity and generosity – once ingrained provide guidelines that invariably impact on lifetime attitudes. Love fostered in the home spills over into relationships with others. But for love to be reciprocated, reconciliation is all-important.
Turn the other cheek
Possibly the most valuable lesson Christ left his followers was the act of forgiveness. It is the central theme of the New Testament. Christ spoke repeatedly of its importance when he told his followers to love their enemies, to do good for those they hated and even to “turn the other check”.