Cherish those who remind us that we too can be good

The e-mail dropped right on time. I was pondering why Father Lionel Sham and Bishop Paul Verryn, who acted in accordance with the dictates of their faith - would be met with such derision and cynicism.

The e-mail dropped right on time. I was pondering why Father Lionel Sham and Bishop Paul Verryn, who acted in accordance with the dictates of their faith - would be met with such derision and cynicism.

The e-mail from a dear and wise friend read: "I do not know if the human race is worth saving, and fortunately, I do not have to make that decision. But I do know that there are many humans worth salvaging.

"For every murderer you point out to me, I'll find you at least one individual who gave his or her life to save another, often a stranger. For every thief you finger, I'll show you a thousand caring people who would not steal a slice of bread even if their bellies were empty".

It is an excerpt from Og Mandino's book, The Choice.

Everything fell into place. I understood there and then that Father Sham's death and whatever vilification Bishop Verryn might be going through could never have been or be in vain.

Fr Sham, a Catholic priest stationed in Mohlakeng's Our Lady of Africa parish, was found murdered two Sundays ago after disappearing from his home two days earlier. This newspaper published a story wherein parishioners said they had warned him against being too friendly with the many street kids he gathered around him.

Church people who should have known that Jesus himself scandalised the in-society of his day by associating with drunks, the sexually imprudent and tax collectors, proudly told a newspaper that they had warned Sham against being too kind to the most ravaged and marginalised of children.

Bishop Verryn on the other hand stood accused of busing thousands of Zimbabwean refugees to his central Johannesburg church. Qedani Mahlangu, the Gauteng local government MEC, ranted and raved about how the bishop carried on "as if there is no legitimate government".

Mahlangu simply could not get it. She could not understand why a man who professes a faith that is for all intents and purposes biased in favour of the underdog could not look the other way as people died of hunger and the elements on his doorstep.

Needless to say, it is not only Christians or, for that matter, religious people who continue to choose personal hardship in favour of making it better for the other person.

South African doctor Feroze Ganchi was detained in Cairo and kept in isolation while he was accompanying a humanitarian relief mission led by Muslim charity Gift of the Givers on its way to the then war-torn Gaza earlier this year.

It was not the first time that Ganchi had been detained for being part of a mission to reach out to those leading miserable lives.

There are many such people in our communities. They don't make newspaper headlines. We just refuse to see them.

We believe they are too good to be true.

We have become so cynical that we have forgotten that there are some among us who still believe in the virtue of the human soul. Sometimes these good people will be murdered like Fr Sham was. In other instances, they will suffer the wrath of insecure politicians such as Mahlangu or they could meet worse fates than Ganchi.

I hope that wherever they are, they remain resolute to what drives them.

For in them, we are reminded that as harsh as the world is, there remains in all of us a power to do good. It is up to us to make the decision.

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