I will admit, there are many horrible and sad things that happen in this town. We actually recently learned that South Africa is an unbelievably dangerous country with one of the top murder rates in the world, top theft rates, and top rape numbers. There is so much unrest in the lower classes here and dark shadows left because of apartheid. Most of the crime is burglary and petty theft, but it can be deadly and dodgy (a word they love here). Actually, many wealthier South Africans are facing real questions of whether it is even safe to raise a family in a city with such chaos. Still, even with the statistical facts of crime and danger here, it can quickly turn into a dismal morning when every moment of the drive you read a sensational slogan about murder or rape cleverly posted by the news organizations. It seems that the entire city continues to work itself into a frenzy about the bad things that happen, and Casey Saturday morning struggled to find any positive news in the paper.
Then, one morning a couple of weeks ago, I was elated to read signs like this one covering each sensational news post along my drive.
The poster slogans were endless; colored sayings such as ‘Choose Love’ and ‘Good Will Win.’ These messages directed my entire day and I was deeply affected by them, as well as pointed in a new direction of creating love and encouragement. After some investigation, I learned that these posters were created by a group who has named themselves ‘Bob Joplin’ (the signature on each poster). This is who they describe themselves to be, and their challenge to the community.
“Bob Joplin is a group of friends in Cape Town, who have had enough of the constant torrent of negative news headlines that we are fed on a daily basis. We want to balance things out a little by creating our own positive news campaign.
None of us believe that focusing purely on the negative is going to help either ourselves or the community at large. That is not to say that we live with our head in the clouds & look at the world through rose tinted raybans. We accept that crime is high in South Africa. However, there are also many compassionate, humanitarian initiatives taking place in this great country that few people ever come to hear of. If you are involved with one of these, please let us know.”
It has really pressed me in my thinking of how we as humans are so easily tempted to focus on the negative and difficult parts of life rather than what is truly good. The reality is that pain, negativity, crime, and hate is not just happening in South Africa or Cape Town, it’s happening all over the world, and even right where you are. Each day we have a choice to how we are going to see it and what we are going to do about it. We can see it negatively, hide from it, judge it, ignore it, sulk about it, and even just grieve it. Or we can accept it and choose to also open ourselves up to the great good that is at work all over the world, as well. So many of the people we have met here have made this choice even in the midst of their own great heartache and struggle, and their lives and work humble me. Even though I would like to magically grant the world peace, like a beauty contestant goal, I know God has given me right now and right here. I pray that I would have the courage, and I pray that we would have the courage to choose to see the compassion and love all around us and take steps towards creating more love and goodness all around us.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same" (Nelson Mandela)