We need to be disabused of the assumption that knowledge is readily acceptable. Knowledge is most viciously opposed in this world. In history, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an Italian thinker and key figure in the scientific revolution improved the telescope. He made astronomical observations and put forward the basic principle of relativity in physics. But, here was a man who could not be accorded the liberty to enjoy the fruits of his achievements in his lifetime.
The most astounding, if not comical, reality being that his most acerbic opponent was the Church. From where else, could he receive support? Instead of being the proponent of knowledge, the Church became its vicious opponent. This phenomenon is, however, not limited to the Church. Right across human civilizations, knowledge has never been readily acceptable. It has always been the future generations to assemble pieces of information, after the death of the pioneer. The majority of such exponents die with their discoveries having not seen the light of day.
Jesus, outstandingly, held the most unparalleled knowledge the world had ever imagined. He was opposed, as to be condemned to the damning cross. Yet, today, Jesus is accorded the status of being equal with God. Such people would give you the impression that they love Jesus, yet displaying such hypocrisy. The apostle John accurately labeled them as liars, and indeed they are shameless liars. The Jesus they purport to love is ill-treated on a day to day basis (Matt. 25:45). They have comfort in ignorance, rather than comfort in knowledge.
“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:19-21) (NIV).
The most celebrated individuals are those advancing falsehood or half-truths. Of course, this is not to say all falsehood is celebrated. But, even, where falsehood is viciously opposed, there would be some truth, beneath that information, causing such acrimony. This is why Jesus said God’s Kingdom would be accorded to harlots and sinners ahead of the highly religious people (Matthew 21:31).
We live in a very confusing world. Misinformation is celebrated more than truthful information. This is why stupidity is advanced as wisdom, while wisdom is downtrodden as stupidity. The grand stupidity being displayed among those spending trillions of dollars, accumulating nuclear arms, rather than helping the disadvantaged of the world. Such nations are the most respected, as accorded the right of being the role models.
You are assumed to be wise when swindling other people to advance your own interests. Yet, when analyzed, clinically, there cannot be any stupidity that surpasses that kind of behavior. Such is a behavior whose trajectory is headed towards catastrophe, yet being highly celebrated as wisdom. You are considered wise, if you think in terms of accumulating wealth to yourself, at the expense of your own countrymen. But you are considered unwise when you think in terms of sharing limited resources with the poor people.
People with such kind of malevolent behavior are respectfully labeled as ‘shrewd businessmen.’ This describes the most popular business people in this world. Most of the freedom fighters in the liberation struggle were driven by the dream of acquiring the status of being shrewd businessmen. Nothing is surprising, when, after independence, some of them turned their countries into extreme poverty. They could now be among the richest of this world, notwithstanding their countrymen being symbols of shameful poverty. Directed to the Israelites, the Almighty God lamented through the Prophet Hosea:
“But let no one bring a charge, let no one accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you. So I will destroy your mother—my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children” (Hosea 4:4-6).
Ian Douglas Smith was the most vilified leader, after his unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia. Of course, something was wrong with Ian Smith, but not everything was wrong with him. In the minds of many, everything was wrong with Ian Smith. It is a question of focus. If one focused on what was wrong with Ian Smith, one would accumulate the hatred that would smear everything that was good about Ian Smith.
The same applies to the controversial Robert Mugabe, being the most vilified dictator in Sub-Saharan Africa. I would be totally wrong to say the man was a hundred percent wrong, in his leadership of Zimbabwe. Yet I would also be wrong to suggest that the man was a hundred percent right in his dictatorial leadership. The point is in seeking to advance a theory of highlighting positive things, thereby, exposing everything bad about him.
Whatever is perceived as negative, is not descriptive of the man created in God’s image. Wisdom lies in adulating what is good, or converting what is bad to become good about him. The only way to resist evil is not to resonate with what is evil. When highlighting more of what is good concerning the person, he becomes even better.
The ex-combatants cannot refute the statistical realities that Ian Smith provided better services than what currently prevails. They can, actually, argue in favor of what currently prevails, in the face of clear evidence. This describes the truth that knowledge is treated with malice. The bottom line is that there is no individual ever created to be evil, except circumstances leading towards being evil.
The record is fully documented of people who could not be accorded respect, because of their evil nature. But we have to investigate deeper, to discover what makes the person as evil as appearing to be. This could indicate his bad upbringing, or that his good side was vastly degraded, to advance his apparent evil nature. All of us, collectively, have a tremendous bearing on how those in our surrounding behave in life.
The axiom: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” is not idle. It overrides every aspect of wisdom and knowledge, where the prescription of human dignity is singularly formulated. The Man projected in the creation story is a composite of the entire humanity. Everything seen in a person sitting or standing next to you is a reflection of you. There is no other knowledge beyond that understanding. You can be a scientific genius, capable of converting the sun-rays into some energy to propel motor engines. But, that does not make you different from the person sitting or standing next to you.
The question, “How can I love a person who is not lovable?” is as good as asking, “How can I love myself when I am not lovable?” The subject of empathy advances the theory that other people need to be listened to, without prejudice. Therefore, knowledge is acquired through no other way, except listening to the other person. Most of the criminals in prison cells are the people who languish unnecessarily, except not being listened to.
The delinquent child, whose parents assume having given up on him, groans inwardly, as a result of not being listened to. No empathy is accorded to him because everyone assumes that delinquent children do not deserve to be listened to. How about the mentally insane? There is a point in his life-time, before things deteriorated, that the insane could have been salvaged. But, even then, with the faith as little as a mustard seed, Jesus said it is possible.
Whatever it is that Jesus did to most of those invalid and completely retarded people, served to salvage those people. Out of ignorance, many people rush to credit miracles, rather than the only principle, associated with empathy. When Jesus declared “Your faith has healed you,” to most of those crippled he had contact with, He projected compassionate empathy.
Jesus exuded the original condition, inherent with humanity. When Jesus said we should look to Him to be saved, He did not mean looking at Him as a demigod. He actually meant that we should understand Him, so as to adopt His nature. This is projected on what He often said to those depending on Him, more than understanding Him.
“A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me,’” (Mark 9:17-19) (NIV).
Why did Jesus express disappointment that those people were of an unbelieving generation? Or, rather, what did they need to believe? The answer points to their ignorance, more than their capabilities. If they knew that Jesus represented an ideal man, created in God’s image, they would, actually, have driven out the demon. Unfortunately, they assumed that their nature was different from the sick person.
“Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:19-20) (NIV).
The faith that Jesus talked about is associated with empathy, towards another person. Unless putting oneself in another person’s shoes, it is impossible to effectively help Him. The definition of empathy implies the intellectual identification with the thoughts, feelings, or state of another person, or the capacity to understand another person’s point of view or the result of such understanding, thereof.
The whole world groans, due to failure to exercise empathy on other people, in the context described in my definition. It should be realized that empathy is different from the term, ‘sympathy,’ which is a feeling of pity, or sorrow, or anxiety over the suffering, or the distress of another person. The difference is that a person with sympathy is distant from the person concerned. Whereas, empathy implies being in the shoes of the suffering person to, accordingly, address his problem, as if yours.
Empathy carries understanding, while sympathy is based on an assumption of what the other person goes through. This can be understood, fairly, when appreciating that, in empathy, one would be with the other person in every detail. All problems in this world are a result of the assumption that we are different from other people. This is particularly the case when dividing people according to race, class, or nationality. Humanity is one, according to the original creation.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27) (NIV).
God is described as one. But the above passage implies plurality in His nature. The same applies to humanity, whose composition is one, but physically divided. If you see another person like yourself, that means you address his problem, as though you were addressing your own. What this means is that if the other person lacks hands to feed himself, your own hands are his hands, to effectively feed him. This is what Jesus demonstrated when He was here. Nothing would be miraculous, there, as long as the intention to feed that person would be right there, to impinge on another person.
It is, therefore, a question of how to acquire the faith that Jesus was talking about. That kind of faith enables us to even do greater things than Jesus did when He was here (John 14:12). That faith comes about when fully understanding and believing that all were created in God’s image. The dominion that was given to humanity is still available. To access it, one needs to believe what God said, without a doubt. To such believers, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, which implies that God could dwell in each believer, just as He dwelt in Jesus Christ.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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