Human behavior is sheepish when considering what happens in the environment. A child gets into a boarding school where there are bullies; he assumes bullying to be normal behavior. That child may turn out to be a bully himself or relent when other people get bullied.
The war of liberation used violence against citizens, leading to the eventual fall of the regime of Ian Smith. The cowed people of Zimbabwe adopted the culture of violence as acceptable. While there are some individuals known to have been at the forefront of Gukurahundi, there are many who passively supported Gukurahundi.
The propaganda that was applied at the time was that Dr. Joshua Nkomo was the sponsor of dissidents. Many people believed in such propaganda, even without checking it for themselves. Similar propaganda was used to murder Jesus Christ, a behavior that an outsider, Governor Pilate, could not understand.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:13-21 NIV).
What could it have been that made those Jews desire to see Jesus killed, ahead of the insolent criminal, Barabbas? What is observably true is an emotional charge to kill an innocent person. Jesus prayed for those people, as they did not know what they were doing.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots(Luke 23:33-34 NIV).
Jesus was speaking from the viewpoint of understanding the insanity existing in humanity. The over twenty thousand killings of innocent people during Gukurahundi did not cause alarm to most people. Thousands, if not millions, thought that purging was justified.
Some people may call such kind of behavior, “mob psychology”. But even without the mob, some people just feel indifferent, until they get into a similar situation, themselves. Lack of education could have much to do with this type of reasoning. By education, I mean as opposed to schooling.
Imagine Honorable Members of the august House of Parliament getting incensed by trivial things such as the yellow attire of the CCC party? Educated people, in my view, are dignified. But a schooled person is only known for annoying his friends by talking about how educated he would be. Such people crave respect, more than deserve respect.
An uneducated person is driven by emotion, more than reasoning. Think of the eight million Jews said to have been killed by Hitler? While Hitler was the mouthpiece, spouting propaganda, others just believed him, assuming the killing was justified. Many abnormal things get passed for normal, even though abnormal.
I had not heard of any President, in the world, forgiving known murderers, until Patrick Kombayi was blatantly shot at, in 1990. The presidential amnesty was granted unashamedly. I assumed there would be an uprising, but only observed things going on as normal.
The precedence had been set. It has now become normal to hear of political opponents disappearing or being killed by state agents. The culture of violence has been with us for the last forty-two years. There is a deafening silence from Christians. Some of those Christians would even go as far as declaring that this is normal because this is Satan’s world.
What those Christians fail to appreciate is that Christians were given the power to cast out demons, in Jesus’ name. The power of Jesus was released through Christians. There ought not to be problems, where Christians exist, as Christians are the light of the world.
“And these signswill accompany those who believe: In my name, they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakeswith their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands onsick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16:17-18 NIV).
Jesus was not insinuating the protection of physical bodies. The people referred to, are not cowards, fearing for their physical lives, more than desiring to stand for the truth. Otherwise, Deacon Stephen would not have been stoned to death, including the apostles, except John. The physical death had been defeated on the cross.
What is seen in the behavior of killers is ignorance. These are people whose behavior confirms the darkness requiring light in the world. No knowledge surpasses the knowledge about human beings being spiritual, rather than physical.
The behavior of murderers projects people who are dead in sin. The reason for Jesus praying for His murderers was His knowledge of death, as opposed to human ignorance, attached to physical death. Jesus was speaking from a viewpoint of being spiritually alive. A living person is represented in reasoning, possible when educated.
The people who cannot think use emotions more than exchanging reasonable ideas. For instance, it is necessary and important to appreciate that the xenophobic incidences in South Africa, are driven by ignorance. The perpetrators cannot understand what they would be doing.
The question is; what are the enlightened people doing, to help ignorant people? The worst thing is to see what is wrong and fail to do anything about it. It is the responsibility of a Christian to decry what is evil. That is what is embraced in the teaching of Jesus.
Those who cannot differentiate between good and evil are categorized as not knowing what they would be doing. But those having received the grace are responsible for delivering the works of righteousness, according to their abilities. Such people see things as God sees them.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:14-16 NIV).
If a Christian observes evil being practiced by his fellow men and does nothing about it, he sins with them. That is the kind of responsibility conferred on Christians. It is not about inquiring whether the flesh feels comfortable about that, or not. It is not about protecting self, but behaving like a Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37).
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them”(James 4:17 NIV).
The problem of permissiveness is observed as rampant across the entire world. Because someone cheated on his wife or her husband, cannot be a good reason to then pick that up as normal. Cheating has become fashionable and normalized in the world because it is being practiced by those considered influential people.
When considering the influential people who divorce their wives to be normal, divorce becomes generally acceptable. Corruption may first be something embarrassing. But before long, it becomes adopted as normal. Those not engaging in corruption get treated as abnormal.
Traditions and culture are developed over time, following what becomes accepted as normal. There is something called group agreement, subtly inviting sinful behavior to humanity. If a newcomer joins a new organization, he tends to adopt existing bad habits, running rampant.
When observing the influential people behaving unethically, newcomers feel obliged to blend in, even though having been ethical themselves. Bad habits are powerful and irresistible to carnal humans. In Zimbabwe, the general public has observed that Government Ministers are often absent during question times, in Parliament.
This is a habit, having been charted by those considered influential senior government ministers. This kind of behavior became a habit, a long time ago, making our Parliament a laughing stock. Life goes on, as long as parliamentarians and those unproductive ministers draw salaries from the government.
This confirms the corruption that has cascaded to other sectors of society. Most of the uneducated public assumes that to be acceptable for those elected into government offices. The often readily acceptable answer to that kind of misbehavior is that we are a third-world country.
It then becomes acceptable for third-world countries to kill each other without anyone raising questions. Christianity is granted the status of docility, in the name of being peaceful and supporting the government of the day. Ordinary people may be appalled by such conduct, but feel incapacitated.
In other words, darkness is allowed to dominate, at the expense of the light that is supposed to shine. The inability to confront evil, by those empowered according to Mark 16:16-18, is abominable, as causing evil to triumph. These are the people empowered by Jesus, to change the world, but fail to do so.
The excuses may appear as genuine, but not when noticing that Christians were granted the power to cast out demons. But those Christians appear incapacitated, showing that there is tomfoolery in the Christian faith. One should be either a Christian or not. Certainly, one cannot be both.
The carnal mind is just vulnerable, without resolving to designate one’s identity. However, as long as taking a stand, to be God’s child, it becomes impossible to tolerate evil. Sin was defeated at the cross. Christians are granted the privilege of defeating sin, in this present world.
Each Christian does not need the approval to confront demonic forces in his/her surroundings. Christianity is not about numbers, necessarily. Otherwise, it could not have been possible for Jesus to defeat sin, as an individual. Doing what is acceptable to God, needs no approval from humanity.
There is no reason for a Christian to feel incapacitated. It is a matter of taking one’s rightful position and behaving accordingly. If one is not a Christian, he/she should then not behave like a Christian. But if a Christian, one should appreciate one’s responsibility as a Christian.
Permissiveness might appear harmless but is like cancer that is more deadly than flagrant sinning. The apostle Paul clearly showed differences, between the two personalities, highlighting the effects of degradation. The warning should not be taken as casual but as a serious matter.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21 NIV).
This highlights a matter of life and death. The most important factor is that Christianity is an individual decision. It does not require looking at what others are doing, in the environment. The newly converted person often becomes disillusioned when observing illicit conduct in his newly found Christian organization.
The package of Christianity includes awareness that this is a sinful world that one should be prepared to confront in Jesus’ name. The idea of following the footsteps of Jesus means looking at Jesus, as the model for Christianity. Jesus never looked at what others were doing in the environment.
The stand-alone idea does not necessarily mean being resentful of those in agreement with one. It simply means adopting what one finds to be pleasing God more than pleasing those in one’s surroundings. No matter how appealing, as long as one observes what is not agreeable with Christ, the idea is to reject it, unreservedly.
Christianity should be regarded as a lonesome journey, where the Holy Spirit takes the center stage. One might lose everything in this world, due to taking that stand. But that happens to be the price of Christianity, whose reward is eternal life. There cannot be two ways about it.
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.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99