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One world, one family

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By Ashley Thaba

THIS past week was 9/11. Sadly, I just need to type that date and 99% of my readers, if not all, know exactly what I am referring to. It was the date terrorists struck America and their hatred caused the death of thousands of Americans and pain to millions.

I remember this day 20 years ago. I came to Botswana as a missionary with the Baptist church. As a 21-year-old when I first arrived, I was so excited. I was going to live overseas for the first time in my life, and I had just graduated from university. My first big adventure! A year into my second-year term, my parents came to visit me. We travelled to the beautiful Victoria Falls.

On this fateful day, we had just arrived in a small hotel room in Zimbabwe and were going to freshen up before dinner. I started unpacking bags. My dad said he would take a quick shower before dinner and my mother plopped onto the bed and mindlessly turned on the TV to pass the time until our dinner reservation.

I wasn’t paying much attention to what my mother was watching. She had just flipped to it and it seemed to be a crime drama or maybe an action movie as planes were flying into buildings and smoke was rising up. It never occurred to us that this might be the news and this was real! The TV played in the background as we discussed our plans for the next day. Then, when the second plane flew into one of the twin towers, she happened to look back at the screen. She screamed “this is real, this is happening now!” My dad was just getting out of the shower. He quickly got dressed and walked out of the bathroom to find out what was all the ruckus about! We all sat on the bed and watched in horror.

Honestly, we had lost our appetite to eat after watching that footage, but we went on to dinner with heavy hearts. Amazingly, as people around the restaurant found out we were Americans, they kept coming up and offering their deepest condolences. There was a sense of love, a sense of camaraderie that this tragedy had caused. I was deeply touched by their concern and compassion but what struck me the most was that it wasn’t even an hour after it happened and the whole world knew! I remember reading about when Jesus comes back and the whole world would know and I remember as a child thinking how is that even possible. Then, 9/11 helped me to see how interconnected we are as a world! To think, in a remote hotel in Zimbabwe, we and everyone around us knew what was going on the minute it was happening on the other side of the world! That was 20 years ago before internet was that popular. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp… and yet the entire world knew. Amazing.

Fast forward 19 years and it is March 2020. We are watching about how people in China on the other side of the world have a contagious disease. It felt so distant. China is so far from Africa. Wrong again. It barely took over a month for the entire world to be brought to its knees and the world as we knew it has not been the same since!

COVID-19 has yet again shown us how interconnected we are and how small the world is. We are truly one big family sharing planet earth and so much more interconnected than I think we realize until a 9/11 or a COVID-19 sadly reminds us.

I wanted to share those two examples because sometimes we mistakenly focus so much on ourselves, we forget that our actions have consequences. Far reaching consequences. For bad or for good. And it may be years later or minutes later, but every good or bad deed we do will not just affect you but someone else.

Please remember that next time you are tempted to pay a bribe, cut the queue at the traffic light, steal something, lie, or whatever it is you might struggle with. We are all interconnected. Everything we do has a ripple effect — whether good or bad. That is why Jesus says in Mark 12:31 that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. Please can I challenge all of us, myself included… to always think “would I want someone to do to me what I am about to do?”

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