2 June 2018 – Zawia Ebrahim. Discourse by Etsko Schuitema: Anger
It has become apparent to me over the years working from this space and seeing people come and go, that we as a people carry enormous amounts of anger.
It’s almost as if the average South African is sitting on a volcano.
There’s this deep sense of injustice, of having been wronged.
And that sense of having been wronged just requires a little provocation and then it comes out.
And, sometimes it comes out in the most ghastly and shocking brutality.
It’s almost as if we have this surface of calm, but sitting underneath that surface of calm is this seething, boiling resentment.
What makes it even more challenging is that there’s a legitimacy to this resentment because of the historical disadvantageous position South Africans have found themselves in, particularly Black South Africans. The prejudiced situations they found themselves in.
And as a result, being subject to very gross and immense injustices. These injustices saw the breaking of family and the breaking of familial bonds. This is the way in which labour worked and the way in which people were separated.
They were continually assigned menial and demeaning work.
And so, the average Black South African carries an ancestral anger.
It’s perfectly legitimate and it’s precisely there where the problem lies.
It is precisely because it is perfectly legitimate that we therefore think it’s acceptable to carry it.
This anger sits at the root of major disfunction in our lives. It creates the condition where we will spend five times more ingenuity on what we can get from other and we don’t spend an ounce of that ingenuity on how we can be of service to our fellow man.
You have to understand that while you are engaging your fellow human being on what they owe you and how you’re being badly done to, you’ll not get that which you need and you’ll not get that which you want. That is as true as the sun comes up in the east.
There is no Baraka (spiritual presence and revelation) and no blessing in the hand that takes. There’s only blessing and Baraka in the hand that serves. And the hand that serves will find its Baraka. And the Baraka will come from a place that you cannot predict.
It’s partly His plot to make us aware that He’s in charge. That he provides for you from where you cannot predict. But the question is, “Have you opened the vessel of Baraka or are you blocking it?” Because when you take on the basis of what you want to take from others, you block Baraka. It doesn’t flow from you. It only flows if you construct your engagement with other on how you can be helpful to them.
We’ve spoken about this recently here. This door of Baraka needs to be pushed. To pull that door closes it. So, how to deal with this rage that sits underneath all of this? And, clearly it’s both naive and stupid and in fact, politically insensitive, to try and circumvent the legitimacy of the rage by making out that it wasn’t so bad. That’s just not useful.
So, one has to work off a deeper platform to find the blessing despite the injustice. And, indeed there are blessings because if there wasn’t more blessings in your life than if there was curse, you’d now be dead. And since they haven’t yet managed to kill you yet, that has to mean that more is going right than wrong. So fundamentally there’s more to be thankful for than to be resentful about.
Which means that at some level whilst you’re seething in your own chest, you’re doing violence to the truth.
Allah is not unjust. He gives us the fruit of our intent. And if right now the fruit that you’re eating is bitter, then understand that you have to revisit your intent. You know that the most significant Hadith is that all actions are judged by their intent. And this isn’t intention in a ‘new age’ kind of way where you visualise having R1000.
This is the fundamental architecture of intent. The fundamental architecture of intent is that you either construct your intent on how you can serve or you construct your intent on what you want to get. Now understand that you’ll stay poor and you’ll stay challenged and you’ll stay miserable while you construct your intent on what you want to get. And no matter how legitimate it is for you to take, man has a very good argument for putting his hand in the fire; good for him. But he can’t blame somebody else when his hand burns.
So it is with us. We can’t blame somebody else for the misery of our condition. Allah doesn’t work that way. And, in order to rise out of our condition, therefore we have to rise to something which does not make us ‘South African’, it doesn’t make us oppressed, it doesn’t make us people from the Vaal … it makes us human. You have to understand that underneath the apparent distinction of skin, of gender, of age, of height, of sexual orientation; however you want to look at distinction between human beings, the same being sits behind all of that. One. Allah says he has made us from oneself. We are the same. And the rules that apply to our misery and our happiness are the same. There’s no such thing as people who are particularly privileged or fundamentally underprivileged because to be alive is already to be supremely privileged.
For you to stand next to Bill Gates and consider him to be privileged is like a man of 1,8 metres arguing that he is shorter than a man of 1,81 metres. It’s a minuscule difference. So we really do have to start remedying our anger. And the first place to remedy our anger is not to allow our brothers to carry on about it. When somebody starts spewing bile, no matter how legitimate it is, tell him to shut up. You’re not doing yourself any favours, you’re not doing me any favours. My ear is not your bile bucket. If you’re going to speak to me, put something encouraging, hopeful, cheerful into my ear so that I can look on my world with trust and I can look at life with trust.
Which is how we should be looking at life. But don’t put stuff in my ear that will make me look out at the world with a sense of rage, with a sense of distrust of other human beings, with a sense of entitlement and a sense of being done in. That’s not useful! That’s a violence being done to me … for you to do that to me. So, if somebody does that to you, stop them. Say to them, “Keep quiet.” Allah gave you a mouth to bear witness and bearing witness means bearing witness to him, that he’s in charge. He’s the benefactor. He’s the custodian of all of this. And he’s benign. So stop telling me this nonsense story. There are so many nonsense stories … all of the conspiracy theories that we carry on … “Oh, its the Jews, oh, its the bankers, oh, its this and that.”
So what? You’re alive. The sun came up this morning. Your house hasn’t been taken out in a catastrophe. Your children are alive. We owe it to ourselves to put good cheer and joy in our hearts. We don’t need the stuff of the world to be joyful.
Joy and happiness is an inside job. This stuff of the world will come to you when you are joyful.
Get the relationship right.
Fix the inside and the outside comes right.
But when you try and fix the outside and both the outside and the inside become a misery.