Three Cheers for Zimbabwe

Western observers have clearly been puzzled by events in Zimbabwe. When is a coup not a coup; will Robert Mugabe go quietly; what do people really think; and so on and so forth, because we cannot get our heads round the fact that events have unfolded in entirely unexpected ways. To me one of the most amazing things is that, up till now at least, not a shot has beeen fired. Even Mugabe has not been subjected to the kind of humiliation that seems to attend most enforced regime changes. Instead, we on the outside have seen courtesy, consideration, good humour and, above all, patience. I hope that is the experience of the Zimbabwean people, too, not just the consequence of partial reporting. Today, as the world waits to hear whether Mugabe will indeed resign before impeachment proceedings begin against him, I think there is a lesson for all of us. So many of our disagreements quickly become confrontational. We treat one another with scant respect, frequently glorying in our ‘directness’ — which is nothing more than an excuse to be rude. Jesus in the gospels is sometimes portrayed as having harsh things to say, especially to hypocrites, but I don’t think he was ever rude or belittling. Can’t we all take something from that? Think twice, pray thrice before rushing in to condemn another; and if we need an example of good-humoured patience exercised after long years of difficulty and privation, I think the people of Zimbabwe provide one. Let us pray for them.

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