Stand up (To rise to an upright position on the feet) and speak out (To convey thoughts, opinions, or emotions orally).

Valentine’s Day 2013 will certainly be remembered for purple clothing, women dancing and the lyrics of the song that was used for the One Billion Rising campaign “Break the chain”. Or shall I rather say that is how I will remember it. Sadly enough I am sure that there are a lot of women and men out there who didn’t have this privilege to stand up and speak out to stop violence against women. I am also sure that there are a lot of women and men who didn’t even realize that it was Valentine’s Day or had ever heard about One Billion Rising.

The fact of the matter is that some women were beaten yesterday, on Valentine’s Day. It makes me sad. What makes me even sadder is the fact that some women don’t even realize that they are worthy and that they should be treated with love and respect as equal to any man. The news release of Oscar Pistorius, the South African blade runner who allegedly killed his girlfriend early in the morning, just proclaimed the fact that violence against women is still a big challenge.

So the day passed and the thought that stuck in my head was whether the dance we did or the purple clothes we wore made any difference or will have any effect in the future. I am sorry if I sound very negative and maybe a bit pessimistic. I will share some thoughts and hopefully come to a positive conclusion.

First I thought to myself who am I to stand up for women, who am I to stand up for the poor and the oppressed? Shouldn’t they be standing up for themselves? I had to go quite a long way back into my past to understand why I need to stand up for the other.

Well I can’t remember it but because of some pictures and stories that my parents told me I know that I couldn’t walk when I was born. At first I was crying most of the time and couldn’t do anything for myself, then after some time I started crawling around, then I started standing up with the help of chairs, tables and kind of anything I could use to support me, without the support I would fall down… sometimes straight on my face and my mom would have to give me some attention before I would stop crying. Then after a few seconds I would forget about what happened and try to rise to an upright position on my feet again. No need to say it started happening naturally after a while. It was great and before I knew it I could start walking forward and backwards by myself without falling on my face and needing some help form my mom and others… or so I thought.

Well I grew up and life happened – school, varsity and work and I started falling down more often than I thought and I realized that I am reluctant about others. I have a lot of life experiences that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of these friends and – well I must admit sometimes – strangers that I never saw again. I came to realize that if I want to maintain my upright position in life I need some support and without the support my knees sometimes become weary and I realise how vulnerable I am without the support.

Then it hit me right between the eyes: isn’t that what Jesus meant when he preached in Nazareth.

God’s Spirit is on me,

He’s chosen me to preach the message of good news to

The poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and

Recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,

To announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

(Luke 4:16-22b The Message//remix, Peterson E.)

I am sure that he didn’t want the people to stand up for their own sake or to challenge other people to do it. He wanted them to stand up because it was the right thing to do, it was a good cause and it challenged them as individuals and as a community to go out of their comfort zones and help people who they didn’t know or have any connection to. It basically meant to go out and be in danger of being judged by your friends for helping people that you don’t like, know or even want close to you – strangers.

Leonard Sweet said: “God is Go” and I would like to agree with him in this sense. Jesus becomes visible in the world when we are standing up for causes which don’t concern us to the least. Jesus never stood up to get publicity. I don’t recall him asking the BBC to take note of his actions or statements to women, the poor or the hungry, to take note that he is standing up for them because he is privileged. He stood up because nobody else wanted to take the responsibility.

When we look at the Luke text we can’t be other than positive, because it gives a whole new meaning to supporting a worthy cause. When we are supporting a cause like One Billion Rising we are standing up for each and every woman who is treated in a violent way. When we are standing up and speaking out against poverty and oppression we are supporting each individual who is poor and oppressed. This doesn’t put me in the pounding seat because I can be of some help, but it gives me an assurance that when I am once again vulnerable and in need someone else will stand up and speak out for me because to rise up to an upright position on your feet is much better than being face down to the ground.

Let us not be silent about the wrong that we see in this world. Let us convey our thoughts, opinions, and emotions verbally and help one another wherever we can.

So should we speak out and stand up for those who can’t? I think the words of Jeremiah helps us in this case.

Are there no healing ointments in Gilead? (the world)

Isn’t there a doctor in the house?

So why can’t something be done

To heal and save my dear, dear people

(Jer 8:7b The Message//The message Remix. Peterson. E)  

I have come to realize that the worst situation to be in is in a helpless situation where nothing that you will say or do will change the outcome. That makes us vulnerable to others and it isn’t always the best place to be in. We must stand up and speak out because there is healing in this world, there is a doctor in the house and for that reason the healing powers of God can only flow into the helpless situations if we are willing to raise our voices, to dance, to walk and to rise.

We need to be the tongue, hands and feet for that poor mother who believes that it’s natural to be treated in a violent way. We can support her, because she would do the same for you and me.

Frans du Plessis  

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