Her story struck me and all the listeners. I was seven months pregnant with my son at the time. The story I heard that day left a feeling that I couldn’t name. Seven years later, I took my son and went to South Africa. There was a psychology congress. Afterwards, I wanted to take the Premiere Classe sleeper train from Cape Town to Johannesburg (Jozi) and see more of the land of peace and human rights activist Mandela. The Premiere Classe sleeper train departed only once a week, and the journey took thirty-six hours. I tried very hard to find a place on this train, which was popular with the locals. We got on the train, found our seats then sat down. The train then left. As if we were watching a movie, we were passing through an enormous geography but at the same time huge poverty. A young man sitting across from us asked us how we found this train. I said I was leaving before I went anywhere else to imply that I was researching! He smiled. His name was Mike. He was a white South African for four generations and was very sensitive to the oppression and poverty suffered by the black race. “Man,” he said, “fights other men because he fights himself. The cruelty we witness in the world is actually a reflection of the suffering of people.”
The words of this wise young man evoked the feeling that the story of my South African colleague had stuck with me years ago. It was a sense of responsibility. First of all, we must take the responsibility of solving our own problems and being a balm for our pain and wounds, so that the quarrels in our world, at home and in our relationships can evolve into peace.
South Africa 2011