All History is Linear

In the Bible, God says of Himself "I am the alpha and the omega!" This simple statement carries with it such profound implications that we could spend a lifetime working through them. But in it God is saying - I was at the beginning of life and I will be at the end of life. History is linear; it has a beginning and an end.

This means that the world and the universe as we know it had a beginning and its life is finite - there will be an end to its existence. The same principle applies to our own lives - we are born and we die, no exceptions. Governments rise up and they fade away, nothing lasts forever.

We do not choose the circumstances or the period on the line into which we are born and raised but we have to manage the consequences. Some are fortunate and go through life with little to disturb their equilibrium. Others go through the holocaust. Such things do not seem to have any reason or purpose, they just happen and what makes the difference is how we handle the situations we each find ourselves in.

Jesus said "In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." This is a clear statement that life for all of us is not going to be a bed of roses. On the contrary, we will all face real problems throughout our lives and must accept these as part of life.

It means we have a certain life to live and our choices make a difference - to us as individuals and to those around us and in our community. We are faced with circumstances and also influence those same circumstances. We may not be able to choose when or where we must live out our lives, but we can all choose how we live while we are on our own historical line through time.

I was born in a time in my own country where we saw the end of white settler control over government and the start of majority, democratic rule. It was not a good time to be white and in Africa. We had not behaved well when in power; we had discriminated against the black majority and suppressed freedoms that were taken as universal rights in the rest of the world. Then we faced a period of discrimination designed to redress the imbalances we had created. We were not accepted as citizens with full rights, we even found ourselves being deprived of what we had built up over the previous half century.

At the same time we had been in Africa for over a century, we had no other home and knew no other life. We loved our country and were at home among its peoples. When we traveled abroad it only confirmed what we already suspected - we were not Europeans, we were Africans!

But we are on our life line - we had no choice as to where that life line started, but we could shape the life that we lived when on the line. We chose - both my wife and I and our two children, to stay in Zimbabwe and to help put this new nation on a track to success and to make a life for us as a family here.

It has not been easy - there have been highs and lows and right now we face the most difficult period that any of us can remember. More difficult than in the civil war, more difficult than when UN sanctions were imposed, more unsettled for everyone, but especially for those who have no alternative places to live. It is not going to get any easier and we must again make choices, to stay; to flee; to fight, to coexist.

For those of us who choose the hard road, we can draw comfort that there will come an end to this evil regime that has made such a mess of things. That is the way of life, of history - life is linear. For those responsible for this awful mess, life must be a nightmare - like being tied to a stinking corpse and unable to let go or get rid of this terrible burden. For those responsible for killings and murder and even worse, they must live with the ghosts of their past, unable to leave them behind; they will follow them to their own graves and deny them peace.

But what of those of us who stay with the tough road we are on? How do we survive, live our lives to the fullness of what is on offer? I have found that in every thing that happens to me there is a path of hope and faith, which constantly surprises. In the darkest times there is light and that light banishes the darkness, in fact the darkness flees from this light. In times of need, something always happens to ensure we find that all our needs are satisfied.

But more than that - life does not consist of what we eat or we wear, or in what sort of house we live. It is much more based on what we do with our lives and the contribution we make to the lives of those who live with us. We live rich, interesting lives that face daily challenges to our initiative and ingenuity. We are surrounded by life - relationships that keep on growing. The acceptance and recognition of others and the fantastic experience of life in such a country with its beauty and variety.

The night skies alive with stars, the warm yellow autumn moon, the cool mornings heavy with dew and birdsong. The blazing evening skies and the vast spaces of bush in every color and shape. The great rivers and lakes, the splash of tiger and bream and the sullen stare of a lion in the shade.

The fight for basic human and political rights, which others take for granted, and which are now denied to us as a people. The struggle for freedoms that others in developed countries no longer even think about and take for granted. The constant battle to keep our businesses afloat and to somehow stay on top of rising costs and falling currency values. Our lives are so rich its sinful and I feel sorry for those who do not have these challenges to meet every day.

Life is linear but that does not mean we are not called to live life out in all its fullness and potential. Only in struggle do we write great music and recognize beauty. I am sorry for Mugabe and his collection of goons because they have missed all this and worse - they now have to live with the consequences of their actions. Am I doubtful about the final outcome? Never - I have read the Book - in the end we win!

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 5th June 2005