“One generation passeth away and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4-5 KJV
Everything in the universe operates in cycles. Our planet, as well as others in space, orbits the sun at varying times and degrees; this is the reason we see the sunrise in the East in the morning and set in the West in the evening. This pattern or cycle has not changed since the day God pronounced the order.
Seasonal changes, with the structure of life from birth to reproduction, ending with the regeneration of new life, corroborate the fact that life operates in cycles.
Cycles that affect families, communities or nations can be positive or negative. Once they are set in motion by a person or a group of individuals in a bloodline, community or nation, there is high propensity the cycle will continue to negatively impact everyone connected to the initiator(s) unless someone or a group of people revolts against it.
On November 20 of 2015, major South African Newspapers featured the story of a 45-year-old man who struggled to break free from a cycle of violence in his family. According to the report, the suspect murdered his girlfriend with his bare hand after the two were embroiled in an argument. In his statement to the court, he admitted he would live with shame and heartache for the rest of his life. Before wrapping up his plea agreements, he uttered these moving statements: “The shame I grew up with knowing that my dad killed my mother always made me vow to never be like him. And the reality is now that I did exactly what my dad did.”
This is a typical story of a broken man who never intended to take the life of another, especially the life of a woman he cared for and loved. Sadly, he failed to keep his promise because he was unable to break or erase the generational cycle of anger, rage and murder that have put a dent or stain on his bloodline.
Cycles, whether negative or positive are not easy to break or change. They are like tradition or cultural beliefs ingrained and passed down from generation to generation. Once enmeshed in the psyche or consciousness of an individual or group of people for long, they continue to form or influence their thinking, behaviour and attitude. This is why certain patterns or cycles that define an individual, family or a community’s identity can span generations. The reason is that repeated bad habits, behaviours or beliefs help form a negative cycle.
In order for curses, addictions or any undesirable behaviour to be broken in an individual, family or community, it would require a pragmatic action and dedication by the individual or parties concerned in that family bloodline or community tired of walking the old path of shame, pain and indignity. In any society throughout the world, cycles that positively or negatively affect people are easy to spot or identify. In many communities in South Africa for example, issues like racism, gun violence and drug problems are divisive generational social issues that continue to polarize and pull members of various communities in this nation apart.
The roots of racism, violent behaviours and other social problems can be traced to the breakdown of the family values and systems. Dysfunctional families will inevitably reproduce a broken society and vice versa. Since family and community are intertwined, interrelated and interconnected, when families cough, the community catches cold. We also need to know that when communities fracture and disintegrate, families will be pressured to absorb some of the wrongful ideas or behaviour that forms the basis of the break-up. The various diversities in our communities in terms of culture, education, business and religion are supposed to add value and blessings not curses on families.
Parents, school teachers, pastors, the police, missionaries and all community members are stakeholders when it comes to building a virile and strong community. The cycle of violence, hatred and racism can be easily defeated when everyone learns to preach the gospel of surrender, not subjectivity. To surrender is to through humility and love let go of some of our rights and privileges for the sake of our brothers and sisters in the community who are weak and less privileged as we are.
When it comes to building a great family, the roles of fathers are unequivocally important and essential. Fathers with racist or abusive tendencies and those involved in gang activities will directly or indirectly plant and nurture seeds of hatred and violence in their children.
Children born in homes with racist ideologies will likely exhibit that behaviour against others in the community. When they, in turn, become parents are most likely to reproduce the same behaviour in their own children unless Jesus steps into that family and destroy the roots of hatred and violence. So that incoming generations in that family line will learn to love and accept others.
Poverty, addictions, divorce, diseases, violence etc., are all fruits of bad choices inherited, created or learned. Whether one is an inheritor or creator of these fruits and their consequences in a generation does not really matter, the most important thing is for individual concerned to decide whether the cycle must perpetuate or stop.
An adult from an extremely poor background has a responsibility to stop or perpetuate poverty his generation and subsequently the generation next. It is not helpful for anyone to continue blaming the last generation or absurdly the government for problems they help to propagate.
Moving forward, the three most important questions everyone should ask himself is:
- What blessings or curses did I inherit from the previous generation?
- What I’m I willing to do with what I inherit?
- What I’m I willing to pass to the next generation?
Before anyone can truly progress toward the desired destination in life, the individual must first understand where he or she is coming from and where he or she wants to go, hence, the need to carefully and honestly ponder on the questions above. It is not what we inherit from our parents or community that will ultimately determine the outcome of our destiny, but what we are prepared to do to change our own circumstances.