I would like to bring yet another side to what I wrote of yesterday as I continue to wrestle with the overwhelming feelings in my heart.
I think that I struggle with digging into history because it is exactly that – history. I can’t bring change to what has been. And I have a tendency to ask those nagging “but what if …?” questions. This can be quite demoralising when spending hours in the history of the Congo. I find myself overwhelmed by the wrongs that were committed to the point that I lose sight of the heroes of that generation. I lose sight of those who fought the wrongs, who stood up against injustice, and who brought change to their generation.
How did they fight? Mainly through media campaigns, publicising the issue so that the public became informed of what was occurring in “Leopold’s Congo”.
For example, E.D.Morel, after visiting the Congo as a representative of a large shipping company and seeing the atrocities, gave up his job (and source of income for his young family); started a newspaper focusing on publicising events happening in Africa; and founded an organisation that would campaign for 10 years against Leopold’s private reign of the Congo Free State, going before multiple governments, speaking in front of 100,000 of people over these years and spreading the message of continents. He was only 28 years old when he quit his job and started these works.
And, of course, we must give as examples all the Congolese and missionaries who bravely testified to the atrocities whilst still in the Congo, risking their own lives in order to do so.
Another reason I struggle with history is that I am also futuristic in personality. I love looking ahead, dreaming of what could be, envisioning a project and then working to make it happen. But I understand the importance of learning from the past. Santayana wrote well: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Not only can we learn from history, we should allow ourselves to be inspired by it, too. History should propel us to action. The more we know of it the more we should want to act; so much of history (good and bad) has happened because of inspired and passionate individuals who carry others with them.
And it is the stories of past individuals who have made a difference – many of whom came from ordinary backgrounds, and low-paying jobs – that should inspire us to hope for change and believe that we really can make a difference. An individual can be a world-changer.
So let us take heart from these past world changers and seek to fight on. Do not lose heart. Let us believe for change. Let us continue to pray and act for the Kingdom of God to come on earth.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)