By Devin Corbitt
Chair of the Western Cape region of the African National Conference; President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches; founder of the United Democratic Front; and leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement: these are just a few of the many accomplishments achieved throughout the life of Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak. He currently serves as an Extraordinary Professor of Public Theology at the University of Stellenbosch and chair of the Advisory Council of the Trans-Atlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race.
Boesak was invited to speak as the feature of this year’s Wilson Lecture. He delivered the morning’s chapel address, entitled “Quietly Bringing Justice.” He was introduced by Dr. Walt Herbert, Professor Emeritus of Southwestern.
“I trust you will find Allan’s message inspiring and instructive,” Herbert said. “It is an honor to welcome him to Southwestern.”
That afternoon, Boesak gave a lecture on “‘The Glory that is not Steeped in Blood’: War and Peace in a Globalized World”. His focus revolved around the causes and solutions to war in our current society.
“The presence of war is the one enduring constant in the developing history of the human kind, it seems,” Boesak said. “Even as enlightened science brought us new possibilities for meaningful life such as we have never seen before, our capacity for creating death has become even more resourceful.”
Boesak rejects the notion of war being the answer to conflict, preferring instead a more peaceful approach.
“I enter this discussion as a Christian liberation theologian from the global South,” Boesak said. “The tradition I revere and try to live by is a tradition of non-violence, even in resistance. I do not believe that violence, in the long run, can offer any lasting solution.”
In keeping with his anti-apartheid views, Boesak discussed historical wars through the lens of colonialism and racism. Through this, Boesak endeavored to show that war, in its most basic form, is apt to do more harm than good.
“The exterminations of the so-called ‘lower races’ were seen as a biological, political and economic necessity. And in these wars of brutality, accountability and proportionate response, our so-called measure of strength, did not exist. From early on in modern times, colonial wars were the experimental field of extinction.”
Boesak argues that it is impossible to hide the truths of war, especially in an era so rich in technology.The only solution, in his opinion, is to end war altogether and move toward a peaceful state in which equality reigns.
“In a globalized world, it is no longer possible to fully hide the consequences of war,” Boesak said. “We must, in communities and within and among nations, continue to encourage the search for non-violent solutions to vexing problems. All you have to do is to bring justice, even quietly.”
Boesak’s visit was sponsored by the Departments of History, Political Science, and Religion; the International Studies Program; the Golabal Citizens Fund; the Slover Fund and the Wilson Lectureship.