Reeds appear quite insignificant, especially in the face of a powerfully spinning propeller. But when a couple of reeds get together they have the capacity to stall and stop the most powerful of engines.
President Jacob Zuma has resigned. It happened on Wednesday. Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. Repentance means to turn around. It does not mean to “be sorry”. That is remorse. Remorse is not repentance.
Often remorse and repentance may go together, but not always. On Wednesday they did not go together! But no doubt about it there was a huge turn around between Zuma’s delusional and defensive rant in the afternoon and his resignation in the evening. Regardless of the cause and reason for the change and regardless of him showing zero sign of remorse, we can be grateful that there was in fact a turn around that I have no doubt saved lives.
When a person is completely out of touch with the truth of their living they become a danger to everyone around them. When the anchor of their conscience has pulled loose from their moorings they float any way the predominant wind blows and self-interested tide determines. They inevitably bump into anything and everything in their way causing great damage. When principle ceases to determine direction the engine may continue to roar but there is no constructive movement – certainly no movement forward, like when a propeller is entangled in the reeds.
Reeds! Reeds are thin and scrawny strings reaching up from the depths ever seeking out the light on the surface of the waters. They appear quite insignificant, especially in the face of a powerfully spinning propeller. Yet when a couple of them get together they have the capacity to stall and stop the most powerful of engines. They are smart and wily and above all endlessly courageous. They are not naïve. They know some of them will be cut up and spat out but they also know with cement-like conviction that it is the propeller’s own spinning that will tie itself up in a nasty knot. It is only a matter of time and pressure. The reeds trust through their many doubts that in the end history will smile gratefully on them.
This week I smile gratefully at the journalists, judiciary and activists who with cement-like conviction in their depths courageously searched for the light. Some at great cost and having to overcome huge waves of fear and intimidation stretched themselves, reaching up reed-like, into the spinning turbulence of corrupting power.
We have witnessed the purring engine begin to splutter… to slow…to stall…. to stop?
The reeds win! As in ancient times the Hebrew slaves scampered through the Red Sea to freedom. Interestingly, another name for the Red Sea is the Reed Sea. The reeds win! As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever?!
This does not mean we have arrived. To stop going in the wrong direction does not mean we are going in the right direction. But it does give us a moment – an Ash Wednesday moment that invites us to repent. To turn around and to reset our sights on what is just and true.
I write with reed-like certainty. DM