‘Maybe a little piece of heaven ….?’ I said enquiringly to Andrew Deitsche, Bishop of New York as we headed into the Eco-Bishops dinner in a winery in Stellenbosch this evening. A beautiful South African evening in a lovely place – and the extraordinarily diverse group of Eco-Bishops reminding us of the global family of which we are a part.
Anyway .. It turned out to be a remarkable evening at which Helen Ziille, Premier of the Western Cape and Opposition a Leader was being honoured by the Tutzing Academy of West Germany.
We found ourselves in the presence of some authentic and moral communication of the strongest kind. She expressed her political philosophy: that everybody has the opportunity and the means to live the life which expresses the freedoms which they value’.
Such a comment has a particular poignancy when spoken in a beautiful place – when round the corner countless thousands of people are living in abject poverty and indignity in the townships of Cape Town.
And then she moved on to say what is special about South Africa – that the privilege of being South African is to take a shortcut through history – moving from being a pariah state to being a state where people learn to live their togetherness.
We have been listening this morning to Bishop Tom Wilmot of Perth – Australia’s Perth that is. He set out the reality of the crisis facing humanity. I’m learning but I can see that if we are to make any progress at all on addressing these issues, we need a new quality of political leadership – less of short-term pragmatism and more of vision expressed in practical reality. We heard some of that in the South African context last night – and we need to hear more of it in the global context