Shine your light

Dear Editor,

THE Covid-19 epidemic has brought a cloud of darkness over the world. Albeit not a literal darkness, but that which is experienced and expressed through the human emotions of depression, anxiety, worry, sickness and the ultimate shadow of the reality of death.  Furthermore, many have lost their livelihood through retrenchments and business and some industries came to a close, taking with them hundreds and thousands of families that are left without any means of support for their livelihood.

Apart from wars and disasters in some parts of the world that many of us have been watching on the news channels from the comfort of our living rooms, we are all now confronted by the invisible enemy of Covid-19. Your loved ones have become a potential threat to your own existence, literally. A sneeze cannot be followed by a cordial “God bless you” but requires a ducking and hiding behind a mask and demands further distancing. Covid has turned us into weapons of mass destruction and instruments of fear. We are engulfed in a cloud of darkness that the psalmist refers to as “the valley of the shadow of death” in the famous 23rd biblical psalm.

I am not writing this as a prophet of doom and gloom, to the contrary, I see the opportunity to shine a light in the darkness that is facing us all. The human spirit has the capacity to rise above calamities and dire misery. It is this unique ability in each and every one of us that can be a spark of light to someone’s darkness.

Being the light into someone’s darkness calls for a few simple acts of kindness, care and compassion. People are lonely, a call or a message of encouragement can bring hope and joy to someone. You can purchase masks for someone who cannot afford. Everybody has to eat, bless a family with groceries and basic foodstuffs. Lockdown require children to work from homes, many in the informal settlements do not have phones, and if they have a phone it might not be a smartphone. Access to electricity is an ultra-luxury. Access to medicine or even proper medical assistance is out of reach for many. People need to travel yet they cannot afford taxi fare.

What you don’t need might just be a great necessity for someone else who might find themselves in the valley of lack. Clothes, shoes and other apparels might have been outgrown or old for you, but the height of fashion for someone who has never had the opportunity to step in a shoe or wear a warm coat. For a shack dweller, that corrugated sheeting is the wall that shelters a family from the harsh wind, cold and even heat of the midday sun. It is also the wall that provides privacy and a bit of dignity for a father, a mother or a young girl or boy, but it does not keep the cold out at night or provide cool air during the day. Many are exposed to the danger of fire and left to the whims of the elements of nature. All these scenarios pose opportunities for you to be a blessing as you provide a solution or just meet a need that only you can meet.

Perhaps the informal settlements are far removed from you, but you might have a neighbour that is a pensioner, someone that is disabled or just a security guard from the neighbourhood watch that keeps your street safe at night and when you are at work during the day. Look around and you might see a colleague who is depressed, anxious or worried. Your boss is also not immune to the darkness of Covid-19 and all that it represents.

Open your heart and look at the world around you through eyes of compassion, care and mindfulness and it will surprise you how many opportunities it presents to you to be a light amidst the darkness. Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by the cloud of darkness that is hovering around the world today. You cannot afford to be a shadow in the night. Darkness does not cast shadows but engulfs and embraces everything that does not have light.

You have light within you, don’t lose your shine; let your light shine!   

John Hafeni Kamati

Motivational speaker, counselor, teacher and pastor