Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Power of Reconciliation

While searching for something on YouTube today I came across this video, which brought tears to my eyes.

As I watched this video I recalled the movie Invictus, a powerful film about the first year of Nelson Mandela's presidency in South Africa. Early in the film and shortly after his election, Mandela attends a South African rugby match. As he walks on the field (pitch?), the crowd erupts in a lot of catcalls and booing. Mandela is clearly not well-liked by the many whites attending the match. When the new South African national anthem is sung, the white audience and the almost exclusively white rugby team (they have one black player) do not sing along. This is not their song. Their refusal to sing the anthem parallels their refusal to accept the new realities in South Africa.

With that image in my mind, this video struck a powerful chord in me. Here, some twenty years later, we see the entire audience and the entire rugby team singing this new anthem together with pride. We see more black and mixed-race players on the team. We see a mixed audience and people of different races interlocking arms. We see indications that reconcilation has made progress in this land.

I'm under no illusions that all of South Africa's problems, including racial ones, are behind it. But I see signs of hope. This video, especially in light of the movie Invictus, says to me that the path of reconciliation is a far more fruitful one than the path of revenge and getting even. Grace and mercy can triumph, even in this fallen world. It requires a significant price and demands exceptional courage. Nelson Mandela was not perfect, but given his background and his experience, the fact that he chose to pursue a path of reconciliation and unity demonstrates the tremendous amount of moral courage he possessed.

Watching this video I think of other deeply troubled areas in the world, regions where conflict has gone of for decades, if not centuries. I think of Palestine and Israel, of Northern Ireland and Ireland, of the former Yugoslavia, of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the peoples in these places joined together in reconcilation and unity, rather than fighting and dying in an effort to gain control over one another? That day may never be fully realized, at least until Jesus returns. But I'm going to celebrate moments like the one in this video whenever I encounter them, because they are truly beautiful. 

Watch the video one more time, and this time celebrate the diversity and reconcilation you see there. And if you haven't watched it, view the film Invictus as well. You won't be disappointed.

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