ZIMBABWE is predominantly a Christian nation – check religious statistics so that I will not bore you with it seems to resonate true!
Let me from the onset explain that being Christian is not necessarily a bad thing; people have the freedom of choice and even when it comes to religion that right is yours and mine to exercise.
However, being socialised a Christian has in many ways led to a monolithic worldview that I have found very disturbing in more ways than one.
It is as if there is only one way to spiritual awareness and therefore we seem to have chosen to shut ourselves to many other possibilities.
Well, it is devilish they say, or maybe it is but guess what? Even other realities outside the Christian worldview tend to view this way of looking at things in an equally disturbing manner, but that is not our goal here, let us talk Christian worldview.
Many sides to a story
Generally in Zimbabwe, it is expected that a woman grows up, gets married, changes surname, has kids and many other stereotypes that come with being female in this beautiful nation of ours.
Oh, I forgot to mention virgin to the list. The Christian worldview would even argue about the Proverbs 31 woman who is expected to be a certain kind of woman that is worthy of marriage and society’s respect.
That is a very good woman. However, let us think. If I decide to do school, acquire wealth, have a baby somewhere in between even before I am married and so on, I am definitely a woman of loose morals and should not shame my parents and the whole community.
Life for a woman like this, who decided to unfollow the norm, becomes almost unbearable, as that is just not the way things are done.
According to whom, I may dare to ask? The insight here, dear compatriots, is that there is a danger to a one-sided story as my fellow sister Chimamanda Adichie has even noted.
There are so many ways of killing a cat. I am not at all promoting the notion that women like myself who decide to chart their own path and make choices to live life the way they deem best for their spiritual journey, are the best.
Well, not at all! The truth is that women do have their lives to live and it does not have to follow the very one linear course.
That being said, it is time we checked in and reflect how our socialisation has a part to play in how we then view others, not just women, who decide to chart a way of life outside our predominantly Christian influenced socialisation.
Imagine that you are sitting with some people at some place and all of you are laughing and having fun.
All of a sudden people become antsy and explain that they have to call it a day, as there is some evening church service somewhere that they urgently need to attend.
At that moment you realise they have, well some of them, these famous wristbands announcing they belong to so and so as that is where they chose to awaken their spirit.
Has anyone noticed how you suddenly become the outcast? There is only one best church and unless you are party of that spiritual space then you are missing the point.
Like seriously, says who? Even in the toilet Jesus can find me there and we begin a wonderful life journey after finding each other.
Or better still, if I chose to focus within myself and connect with my spiritual being, the transformation can be transformational for me and those around me!
Or again imagine, the same setting and the one of those in the group asks you what church you go to and you simply state that you do not go to church.
Am I the only one who has noticed the hard time the person who is a non-church goer goes through?
It is assumed in Zimbabwe that if you are not Christian then you are the devil incarnate himself.
Well, I am not promoting atheism or Satanism (as I am sure those fanatics are already purporting) as an alternate spiritual awakening but all I am saying is that it is high time we wake up as a nation and realise that behold all things Christian may not be what we think.
Not all Christians are spiritual and not all religious people actually make a difference that is positive.
There is need to be more open hearted and tolerant to the reality that this world is way bigger than we think.
Worldviews are much wider than our personal lived realities. Jesus was a very tolerant man, he did not condone many things but He surely did not condemn people – besides is that not why He came to this earth?
Zimbabweans, we need to learn to be tolerant. It is about checking with ourselves and realising where our very own worldview is hurting the next person and I just happen to chose Christianity to hinge my reflection on.
It could also be many other issues like gender as I have noted above, academic standing. Oh my academic! I know you are almost regarded as a non-person in this education-pursuing nation.
But even those who do not have a masters degree are equally amazing beings – you do not know their story so seek insight before holding onto this monolithic Christian worldview.
Behold all things are new
Choices are hinged on what the other deems the best way forward. However, choices always have consequences no matter how good they may look.
Look at our country, independent indeed but just check us out. Well, let us not go there but truth is choice of independence and how we got here where we currently are does have a link.
Many times we seem to be looking for the cause of our misfortunes and these are usually external.
As Africans we are big on the causative theory that explains that nothing just happens, there is a cause. Indeed, there is a cause and most of the times you are the cause.
How we look at anything, how we define realities, how we connect with them is also a great contributing factor to others and ours realities.
So let’s say for instance, we are some of those uptight closed up and fanatic Christians, life is defined in God or devil and this anything good is God and anything bad is devil.
However, in a world where realities are what they are to people, it is bigger than that.
We may need to think about exploring the realities of others without a judgmental lens. This means going deep within ourselves and questioning how we look at things.
It may also mean that we begin to learn that there is more to this world than just black and white truths. Sometimes there are some 50 Shades Of Gray (in the truest sense of the colour not the book) and these greys too are a good place to stop, reflect and learn.
Nicodemus did that and sought awakening and Jesus helped him out and we too can do the same.
There is no need to Bible-bash me or anyone else for that matter for my open-minded article, just take what resonates and throw away or even burn (if you are fanatic) what you deem unnecessary if your tolerance is still poor that is!
Of tolerance, love and insight
It is amazing how we seem to forget that even though we are out there and bashing others, there is also another side to viewing realities.
We could think about simply choosing to be more tolerant, loving and insightful so that we co-exist peacefully with others.
This hate speech, down with this one and up with this one, which is intolerance. The virgin is better than the non-virgin, ah so what we trash the non-virgin?
The educated are more worthy compared to the uneducated, the wealthy is better than the poor, the young is better than the old or the old is wiser than the young hence better, those with a child in the Diaspora are show-off and better than those with no child at all, the Christian is better than the Buddhist, Hindu or whatever.
This is intolerance, something needs to be done so we can re-write the script and open ourselves more to seeking understating more than just being myopic.
Life has many realities and depending on whether you chose the other over the next, the one you chose seems the best but there are more realities still.
The secret in creating a healthy Zimbabwean nation is to be open and understand other worldviews, other realities and make a choice of yours and stick with it understanding that there is more than one reality.
More than one political mindset. Even at national level if we keep this linear way of thinking we will become xenophobic as our economy continues to stable at the cost of upholding some monolithic views.
Let us reawaken and embrace others in love and surely if that will not win them over then we let go and let them be.
We have the courage, stamina and what it takes to check in and see what needs to transform so that we become a better people and nation.
Let’s do this!
Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje