As Simon Peter got obsessed with defending his Master, he obviously must have naturally drawn popular support to himself. His view was sustained in common cause for justice. Not many people, even in our time, find wrongness in Peter’s behavior, notwithstanding that Jesus attributed it to Satan.
Nothing else betrayed the Jews, except Jesus’s failure to take a radical stance, in asserting His viewpoint. The zeal, with which Peter exuded disapproval for Jesus’s murder, carries popular support. Jesus’s supporters lost their mettle, due to Jesus’s apparent lack of radical assertive stance for His cause.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:21-24) (NIV).
The brutality of evil and Satanic viewpoint in this world, stem from the appetite for being right. The only reason why evil goes undetected is the camouflage of goodness, coated around the crust of evilness. Human problems are neither found in rightness nor wrongness, but in the mixture of righteousness and evil. Sane people cannot be duped by clear wrongness, except where the mixture is applied.
This world is composed of variant personalities comprising those asserting their respective positions of rightness. The patterns of such kaleidoscopic viewpoints are, generally, the cause of all conflicts, characterizing the snarled relational matters in humanity, created in God’s image. The blame and counter-blame carry merits and demerits, depending on the individual evaluator’s background.
It is considered normal, to pick up some stable datum, guiding one to then hold assumptions of being better than others. Nevertheless, in that viewpoint, exists the dangers of human society, annulling all vestiges of life. The toxicity of dogmatically embracing one’s viewpoints, but unwilling to consider other viewpoints, is as deadly as covid-19 is currently considered deadliest.
The virulent power of dogmatism, actually, surpasses that of covid-19, whose curb can be accessible when wearing masks and social distancing. A group is as wrong as upholding the application of violence, against radical groupings, like Boko Haram. The opponents of Boko Haram may just be as wrong when seeking to violently eliminate such advocates of terrorism.
Aiming at making the world safer, the opponents of Boko Haram serve to fuel terrorism. Principles of dignity are found where there is tolerance and communication. Rightness cannot be readily attainable, by those coating the resins of goodness, when assuming the role of being peacemakers.
In this world, wisdom is not found in speaking the truth, without dilution. When given a chance to converse with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, authentic peacemakers consider effective ways, adopting such endeavors. Modern civilizations use diplomacy. One becomes a cropper when telling a corrupt President the undiluted truth, using what would be publicly documented.
There would be some semblance of hope when using diplomacy, towards individuals with unacceptable behavior. Good negotiators carry the skill of diplomacy, more than asserting their own positions of rightfulness. The application of diplomacy starts with being a good listener, more than being a truth-teller. This idea was advocated by James, yet possibly misunderstood by most Christians:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angrybecause human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you”(James 1:19-21) (NIV).
Of course, patience in listening to a charlatan can, indeed, be frustrating. But diplomacy requires foregoing one’s own viewpoints. Charlatans seek to assert their positions, more than desiring to listen to other people’s viewpoints. But a principled listener would understand and not give up the idea of listening.
One may appear as gaining much, as long as carrying the appetite for asserting own position of rightfulness, assuming all others to be wrong. But, there remains to be no other workable slant for a genuine transformational betterment. Except allowing the other person the position of being right ahead of oneself.
That is the only way that can lead the disdainfully assertive personality towards observing his own wrongness, rather than being brazenly told how wrong he would be. All humans are basically good. The only stimulant, making them awkwardly behave badly, is the scarcity of listeners to their cause.
They may clearly identify with the meaning of goodness, advocating for the idea of doing unto others as one would like them to do to them. The only exceptions are the heavily deranged mental patients, deserving to be institutionalized. But the mental patients are few and can be easily handled in a largely sane environment.
The strongest position that carries lasting solutions, on matters of human survival, is found in listening, more than in asserting positions of rightfulness. However, this should not be construed as pretending that the outspoken ones are not credited with heroism, for their stance of belligerence.
My soft spot for leaders like Nelson Chamisa, rather than Julius Malema or Bobby Wine, is premised on this reality. True leaders are not driven by emotion. They maintain their own dignity, doing what is right, rather than having to emotionally fight for their rightful positions. Attention-seekers draw as much support for themselves.
But the support that attention-seekers receive from the abused public is similar to the raging fire that is fueled by old newspapers, or dried leaves. Being right does not require the forceful assertion of being right. It requires the application of rightness, in conduct, more than the assertion of being right.
Of course, this cannot be understood by the advertising agents, driven by principles of marketing, where the limelight is viewed as paramount. Of course, the idea of being right, without seeking support, is principally as unpopular as Jesus was unpopular.
The test of character is in the willingness to listen, more than desiring to be listened to. When desiring popular support, radicalism appeals, ahead of everything else. Nevertheless, to those solely desiring to establish the truth, nothing is more virtuous than being a good listener.
Just as popular as asserting one’s position appeals, it goes without saying that all human failures stem from the reality of asserting own positions. This world is in need of listeners, more than those seeking to assert their own positions of rightness. This is the only legacy, championed by Jesus, inviting adoption by true Christians:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them on the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”(Matthew 5:38-45 NIV).
To be right, one has to start by accepting being wrong. Understanding is possible, only to those willing to renounce dogmatic positions, before embracing the unadulterated rightfulness. While easy to understand Jesus, the blinding factor lies in religiosity. There is no need to worship Jesus. But there is a need to apply Jesus’s principles, leading to true liberty for the entire humanity.
The above Scripture appears as having no relevance in a society that assumes violence is necessary to establish peace. The liberation war of the seventies was wrongly adopted as acceptable, assuming the war would eventually bring peace to Zimbabwe. The entire world supported that stance, more than entertaining Jesus’s principles.
Only time has revealed that there was no truth in the violence, leading to peace, after all. The 1890 uprising depicts different heroic characters. But none can stand stronger than Lotshe Hlabangana, killed for advocating listening to other viewpoints.
The Lotshe Hlabangana killers may have been regarded as heroes. They may have had popular support, while Lotshe Hlabangana was regarded as a traitor. Yet indeed, the killers of Lotshe Hlabangana were the real traitors. This is why our Heroes Acre, can hardly convince truthful people that most of those interred in that shrine, represent true heroes.
With the entire country, becoming a laughing stock, which war hero wishes to be associated with the liberation struggle? The law of cause and effect, reveals that Zimbabwe is in this shameful condition, due to substituting truth for falsehoods.
What makes this more reprehensible is that more blacks were killed, more than the white settlers were killed. Currently, with the corruptly entrenched system, under the leadership of those who championed the Gukurahundi debacle, no hope looms.
More blacks, for whose liberation was sought, appear as facing more danger than ever before. That danger is not coming from the former colonialists but perpetrated by the same black killers, in disguise of being liberators. The appetite to kill is easily planted in innocent young people’s minds.
The naïve of our time, are persuaded to believe that the hatred of the Gukurahundi sponsors, is what carries hope, for our country. Allowed to smolder, the fire of hatred is the one threatening to burn all living things. Hatred is based on ignorance, when assuming that revenge is necessary when addressing all past evils.
The only profound reality with ignorance is that it appeals for triggering violence, faster than that wisdom entreaties peace. Apparently, the words of Jesus, as highlighted in Matthew 5:38-45, have remained unpopular, just as such words were callously unpopular, in the first century. Nevertheless, scientifically, nothing can substitute the effectiveness of those words, even in our time. They will remain true for the next millions of years.
Standing for what is right does not require the combative assertion of one’s own position; when desiring to restore elusive justice. In short, truth does not require defending, as the truth remains to be what it is. A true hero, standing for what is right, does not need supporters. This is the basic truism that Peter did not understand when seeking to support Jesus at Calvary.
Zimbabwe is currently not in need of legal experts, after all. The country is in desperate need of empathetic listeners, willing to forgo their own convenient positions of rightfulness. The doers of rightfulness, at the exposure of being victimized for standing for truth, can be very uncomfortable. But it is the only sure way of establishing rightful conditions that could reverse the unacceptable conditions.
Ordinary people have suffered more than enough. Yet without any hope of exploding out of the cage. Hope is contained in promises, sustained in a bespattered nation, ravaged by unprecedented corruption.
The so-called polarization in the political landscape has been blamed. But the game-changer, embracing the expertise in attentive listening remains untapped. The power of listening is the only cog with possible floodgates of human deliverance.
Putting faith in Jesus has always been the acceptable music to the religious people. But all such talk of faith is reverted to Scriptural misunderstanding. Jesus neither sought sympathetic followers nor ardent worshippers. He simply advanced a way of life that changes the environment for the better, based on the Scripture:
“Do unto others as you would have them do the same to you”(Matthew 7:12). Jesus championed the way of truth, leading to His solitary murder at Calvary. But Jesus did not muster supporters who would then make it possible for Him to assert His truthful position. Of course, no one can deny that Jesus had more enemies than friends.
Nevertheless, Jesus did not compromise, concerning the establishment of permanency in the significance of principles of goodness. His resurrection sufficiently exposed falsehoods, maintained in assuming peace can be attainable, when applying revenge, in pursuit of common justice.
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