Women, Walls and Bridges

It’s been quite a week – so far.  Around Women’s Day.  What role have women actually played?  On the whole, around the major event, the No Confidence Debate and Vote, apart from the role of the Speaker Baleke Mbete there appeared to be a lack of womanly genius.   The Speaker did herself and us proud by allowing a secret ballot. However, was it a carefully calculated risk, a stroke of genius?  Genius, you may ask?  The Church’ statements on the genius of women were noted in the article Woman, genius or victim in the latest Family Matters magazine, my Southern Cross column, a parish talk in Soweto and now some further reflections on the “geniusical” attributes of women.

MARFAM Women’s Day in Soweto

In Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) St John Paul describes these attributes as receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity and a reflection on these is valuable for women and for men.  One can contextualise and apply them even in a small way.   So women are more receptive then men?  Do what they are told?  Receptive to being loved by a man, even one whom less and less today admire?  It is intriguing that it appears that some of the greatest supporters of our beleaguered president are the ANC Women’s League.  But maybe their genius is in their support for a possible future woman president, a member of the Zuma clan, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and a hope for some of her generosity.

                                                                                How would it feel to have a bridge collapse on your car, or truck as happened very early on Women’s Day morning on one of Gauteng’s busiest highways, mercifully almost empty at that time on a public holiday? It must have felt like all hell broke lose, as happened too when our Deputy Minister of Higher Education found himself embroiled with some women outside a nightclub a few nights ago and now faces charges of assault. Not a great example of a role model for his charges, the tertiary cabal who are already inclined to (excusable?) violent action.  The gender justice component to that scenario is that he allegedly reacted to a slur, being called gay.  According to the Constitution one may not raise one’s hand against a woman, but has to swallow one’s pride on a different and sensitive gender matter!

Remember the children’s jingle, “sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never harm me.”  Well, that’s just not true.  There is great sensitivity to words and bullying.  Words, the kind of war of words engaged in by our elected leaders in the hallowed halls of parliament, can build a wall, a wall of mistrust, of seeing one’s political opponents as “the enemy.” Naturally one dare not side with the enemy, even in voting out an acknowledged corrupt president, also known as Duduzane’s father, irrespective of the still small voice of conscience. Generosity does not include a share in the stolen spoils of that war, but there should rather be a willingness to relinquish this for a greater good.

It can be said over and over, what on earth do we teach our children when our respected leaders act in an unprincipled manner?  Can motherliness do it alone?  It could require even more than the combined genius of mothers and of fathers to point the way, and model the way of right and wrong, while we pray for openness and receptivity to the grace of God to form and inform everyone’s conscience.

A quote from Pope Francis:  “Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples. Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred. The words of Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”– Message for World Day of Social Communications, Jan. 22, 2016


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