I just kept quiet

How often have I heard those four words and how often have they described my own reactions? Keeping quiet is the easy way out and often it is the wisest. The other day I slowed down to enter Enterprise Road. I looked left and right and left again. There was nothing coming.

Whether my wheels actually came to a complete halt or not I cannot say but three policemen were waiting along the road.

Dont you know you are supposed to stop? Yes, indeed but . Well, you have broken the law and we need $20. Thank you for the reminder about stopping but I do not have any money on me. Cant you try your pockets? You must have something. I really dont have anything. I am going to a meeting not to do shopping. And he waved me on.

A feeling of sadness came over me. Here was a young man driven by the momentum of economic decline to search for money somehow, anyhow. He was not interested primarily in upholding the law. He was tainted by the environment in which we live today.

If the authorities really want to drive out corruption why cant they pay him a decent wage? And if they dont have the money to do that why cant they unlock the economy so that it produces the money? And if they say we cannot free up the economy because of political wrangles why not sort out the wrangles? There is nothing really stopping us solving our problems except our own unwillingness to solve them.

Meanwhile I just keep quiet. One of the wisdom books in the Old Testament speaks of a time for throwing away stones and a time for gathering them up (Qo 3:5). The first is an image of patience, silence and endurance; the second of speaking up and confrontation. Most of us, I suspect, prefer the first. If I throw away my stones I can fade back into the anonymous crowd and continue my quiet life even though I am annoyed and frustrated. If, on the other hand, I gather my stones and prepare to hurl them at another person I know there could be unpleasant consequences.

There are people in Zimbabwe today who are prepared to throw stones, metaphorically, of course. I am always inspired by their courage. New birth does not come without suffering and any breakthrough will need people prepared to take risks. We have not yet reached the point where the stones have any real effect.

Post published in: Opinions

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