Most of the people I know have a pretty well-honed sense of what it takes to fit in. If they’re younger, they know what it takes to be cool. If they’re a little older, they know what it takes to be considered successful. Within the social circles we traffic, we know how to be polite. If we go to church, we know what it takes to be proper.
So what is the right way to live in a country that was built on 350 years of black servitude? What’s the proper thing to do when you are living among white neighbors who grew up under a regime that both created and religiously enforced the systematic separation of blacks and whites under a body of laws collectively know as Apartheid? ("Apartheid" is an Afrikaans word meaning “separation,” which defined the legal and social relationship between blacks and whites from 1948-1990).
For us the right thing to do is to live right side up in an upside down world. The right thing to do is to do the very thing most people won’t do.
One of our favorite times of the week down here is Sunday afternoon. Each week we host a very culturally appropriate braai, (a South Africa BBQ), on our stoop and we invite all the folks we have befriended to join us. What makes it really fun though is that we draw a very culturally inappropriate crowd! There are poor blacks from the nearby township, upper middle class white students from the university, black children of domestic workers, white businessmen, Christian pastors and ancestor worshippers all sitting side-by-side.
Many of the people who come have never experienced an upside down gathering like this before, and you can bet our
neighbors haven’t ever seen a group like this gathered in their neighborhood! It’s just not the “right” thing to do.
But we just happen to think it gives our revolutionary God a great big smile. It gives us one too, so we’ll keep doing it. And in time we’ll see who else wants to live right side up in an upside down world.