Stand Up - Be Counted

Posted by Robert / on 01/20/2018 / 1 Comment

Carlos Sanvee

Stand up - be counted. And leave no one behind

First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

These excruciating words of Martin Niemöller [1] are a harsh reminder of the risks of silence when there is injustice and oppression all around us. The call to justice is a Christian obligation; not a mere choice. Archbishop Tutu once stated: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

The worldwide YMCA/YMCA always finishes just before the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children. My leadership role in the week of prayer is a blessing as the above guiding tenets show me that it is up to me, men and our younger brothers to stand up and be counted. There are thousands and thousands of us who do not believe in a dominant and toxic masculinity. We abhor this. The questions is: what do we do about it? We must stand up. Be vocal and insightful.

"We must be counted in the men who leave no one behind, as the 2017 theme tells us."

And this is crucial. Leave no one behind! Let us think of all the women who are left behind: those who feel they have no rights; those in marriages whose rape does not seem to count; those in slums whose gang rapes are a nightly ordeal; those who have transactional sex for airtime; those who get beaten for not having the dinner warm when he arrives late... Leave no one behind. And what of the men? Those who think it is important to hit their girlfriend in case she gets cheeky; those who wonder how they are going to take their empowered wife to meet the family at the farm; those who rape because they have grown up in that culture of taking what they see as theirs; those who try to treat their women right... Leave no one behind.

Gender relations and sexual equality are not easy. We would have got it right by now if it was easy.

"I do believe though that it is the single most important inter-dependence of our times and this is something I have fought for personally and professionally."

Together, we can tackle the complexities that face us all such us poverty (without getting lost in the engendered nature of poverty) and other issues jointly such as climate change and technological advancement.

"In the African YMCA movement, we have during my tenure, adopted a gender policy and procedures and more recently guiding principles on sexual harassment. The African YMCA movement stands against sexual harassment and makes no excuses therefore based on practice or learned cultural behavior. No. We leave no one behind as we believe all are citizens who have rights, and not subjects open to manipulation and exploitation."

It is not easy. No. We are waging war with patriarchy and systematic cultural empowerment of men, as well as the popular culture that places men at the forefront. But we wage war out of understanding and in appreciation for what has come before us. Right now it is time to stand and be counted. Let us leave no one behind.




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  • Robert says:

    To the author, I congratulate the declarative nature of the topic being an imperative to stand and be counted when injustices prevail regardless of if those injustices are toward your gender, beliefs, culture, community, etc. The reality is an injustice against humanity is an injustice against us all as we are but one humanity.

    I request clarification on the first sentence of the third paragraph, as excerpted here - "The worldwide YMCA/YMCA always finishes just before the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children." Specifically, I believe there are some words missing in the sentence and I believe the intent was YMCA/YWCA rather than YMCA/YMCA.

    Again, thank you for bringing such an important and difficult topic into a discussion for reflection. I challenge all cultures, including my own, to discern and correct instances of injustices toward humanity with a particular focus on gender-based injustices that are far too prevalent across societies.

    Robert Reid

    January 21, 2018 at 8:50 PM | Permalink


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