There’s no doubt we need to start afresh as country.
We have to break from the mistrust and hostility, and frequent psychological and physical violence in our nation.
In a Pastoral Letter dated 19th July 2019 to all Catholics and people of goodwill, the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “We have observed the prevailing situation in our beloved country ranging from serious economic challenges; mistrust and hostility of one another; theft and hate speech towards each other; and the now frequent psychological and physical violence. These unfortunate circumstances have created a sense of anxiety and disorientation in all of us. Thus we your Shepherds call upon all of you to take a deep breath and step back and turn to God in prayer and recollection so as to refocus ourselves on what is best for our country, Zambia.
“In a moment of introspection, we shall realise that, in fact what unites us is greater than what divides us: we are all God’s children. Therefore, let us start afresh in a prayerful manner as a God fearing nation turning all our energies to finding solutions for the common good, regardless. In order to develop our country, we call upon everyone to bring their talents forwards. Together we can surmount the myriad challenges facing us.
“As St Peter urges us, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet 4:10).
“Your knowledge, experience, wealth and position are like seeds, they bear fruits only when they are put at the service of others. Therefore, do not hide your gifts but use them for the common good.
“We urge everyone to live in harmony, peace, and love with one another.”
There is urgent need to take a frank look at what the Catholic Bishops are saying.
Our country is divided at several fronts and no one should take lightly the Church’s observation and counsel.
But how did we get here? Why are we failing to reconcile the nation? Why this hate for one another? Who is benefiting from this hate, violence, and sense of hopelessness prevailing in our country?
Let’s introspect, do self-examination, and challenge ourselves as citizens to bring our talents forward and together work to surmount the myriad challenges facing us.
We can only achieve this if we move above partisanship, above the narrow individualistic interests which has led way to theft, fraud and corruption.
It is this spirit of self-aggrandizement that has brought hate, violence and mistrust.
Citizens, their political leaders alike, will have – as Pope Francis says, “to vehemently reaffirm that peace is based on respect for every person, independent of his or her history, on respect for the law and for the common good, for the creation that has been entrusted to us and for the moral richness passed on by past generations.”
The Pope also teaches us that through patient and persistent efforts, the pursuit of harmony and concord can overcome division and confrontation.
Zambians should promote a true fraternity, favour a culture of encounter and dialogue that is attentive to the little ones and the poor.
Let us do away with this new trend of bulldozing everything as the case with the controversial constitution-making process.
On the practice of love, the Dalai Lama teaches us that, “to do so in all situations will take time, but you should not lose courage. If we wish happiness for mankind, love is the only way.”
He also says, “If, despite external difficulties or problems, internally one’s attitude is of love, warmth and kindheartedness, then problems can be faced and accepted easily… By developing a sense of respect for others and a concern for their welfare, we reduce our own selfishness which is the source of all problems, and enhance our sense of kindness, which is a natural source of goodness.”
Zambia, let us indeed start afresh.