Many people are discovering the importance to our well-being, both as individuals and as a society, of standing back from our daily pursuits from time to time and, in the light of our frenetic world, of developing the gift of reflection.
This is not only a spiritual discipline; it can be applied to all aspects of our life.
The year's end and the focus of Christian believers on the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ are an opportune moment for such introspection.
This year 2008 has been one in which we have been confronted with our hopes and fears in South Africa, and global events around us have underscored the essential African wisdom that we are, through ubunthu, inter-related across boundaries because a person becomes a person through other persons.
We are still, for example, to feel the impact of the economic recession as a result of the financial |crisis in the Unites States of America, where |billions of dollars, more than enough to service the national debt of the whole of Africa, have to be raised to bail out certain financial houses.
Closer to home, our hearts bleed for the people of Zimbabwe, where lust for power and the lack of political will on the part of SADC leaders are destroying the country.
But even within our own borders, the xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans, and our political intolerance alongside similar displays of homophobia have caused us to reassess what a democratic, rainbow nation is meant to be.
On the Day of Reconciliation, when the name of Maki Skozana was raised again, we were vividly reminded of how, in the last days of apartheid, we could treat a fellow human being as rubbish to be burnt.
These are some of the fears of the past years, apart from our personal struggles in a world which seems not to care for the individual.
That hope is alive is evident amidst our fears, and it is still true that hope springs eternal in the human heart.
The belief that what presently confronts Zimbabwe can change is what encourages us to work towards supporting those who are engaged in various human rights organisations, for example, Women of Zimbabwe Arise.
We are also encouraged by the success of others, and our athletes at the Paralympics and Special Olympics challenged all of us to look beyond our limitations and rise above our circumstances.
There can be no doubt that 2008 will be regarded as the year of Barack Obama, in terms of his political accomplishment in the United States and his inspiration to ordinary people, especially "minority" groups, to say emphatically "yes we can". …