Christmas in a Conflict Zone – Eddie Cross

via email

As we approach Christmas we need to reflect on what has gone on in the past year and think about the New Year that approaches; in doing so we need especially to think of those who live in conflict zones. Where people are shooting at each other it’s easy to identify the crisis and the consequences and the images of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are all heart breaking especially with the bitterly cold conditions that have prevailed there recently.

It’s also easy to identify the problem in the Congo and in the Central African Republic. You can see the images every day on television and hear the statements by the UN and others on the need for intervention and action to avoid a bloodbath or genocide. Other situations of conflict are less easy to identify, but still carry the seeds of suffering and grief, indeed even deaths on a large scale but somehow they slip through the media net and go unreported or misunderstood.

My heart goes out to the billions of people who live in dysfunctional families. There is little doubt in my mind that the family is the basic building block in society. It is not the product of evolution but of design and in terms of my own world view, it was designed as the best place to raise and nurture children. Having children and seeing them grow up in a secure, loving environment with discipline when necessary, is a basic human right and responsibility. Societies like South Africa where three quarters of all children are raised in single parent homes, or homes without a parent, are condemned to become dysfunctional societies where crime rates are abnormally high and violence a daily experience.

But this malady is not limited to a few countries; it is becoming a global scourge of epidemic proportions. Societies no longer espouse the values and norms of the past where marriage was a union for life between a man and a woman. It’s got nothing to do with poverty – successful families can be found in their millions in subsistence societies and their children often go on to succeed in their chosen vocations. It has everything to do with religion, culture and values.

The misery of a dysfunctional or unhappy marriage is hard to describe and can be a nightmare for those caught in its web, but it’s not inevitable or unavoidable in most cases. Commitment and dedication to each other is by far and away the best prescription for success in marriage. Let no one tell you the grass is greener on the other side, it’s not, and for both the man and the woman as well as the children, family is still the most fulfilling and satisfying way of life for humanity.

Let no one tell you that divorce does not affect the children – it does and children from a dysfunctional family are in most cases dysfunctional themselves and their societies suffer the collective consequences. What bothers me most about the debate on the family is that it is not happening and that people do not seem to understand that this is the most important issue in the world today. If we stopped having families and stopped bearing children we would be a one generation wonder. There simply would be no future for anyone and any hope of a better tomorrow can be totally discarded.

Then there is the scourge of absolute poverty and hunger. Half the world’s population lives in poverty; in Zimbabwe it’s 70 per cent with a majority in absolute poverty (not enough income to maintain life). The Millennium Development Goals seem a distant objective today – much more so than they were when they were first adopted. Worse still is the total insecurity of the majority who live in poverty today – they do not own the resources that they rely on for their incomes and do not have security of residence. If they do generate a surplus they cannot store it for leaner times and most often it goes bad and is lost.

Many of the other ills of modern society are a direct result of poverty – all forms of slavery and human trafficking for example. One might associate the ills of drug and alcohol abuse to the dysfunctional family, poverty and insecurity. But the causes go far beyond those ills in society and the solutions are often in our hands. If we as humanity took the collective decision to give the poor control and ownership, on a secure, legally binding basis, of the assets they controlled today, it would trigger a global revolution that would make the ongoing transformation of China and other Asian Tiger States look like they were standing still.

It would be like setting the slaves free – at one stage in world history, 70 per cent of many populations were slaves and the relationship between Feudal Lords and their serfs was not much better. Eliminating these practices not only gave millions their freedom but also empowered them and transformed the societies they lived in. The Enclosure Act in the UK heralded the industrial revolution and the free burgers of Europe formed the very foundations of the reformation and its subsequent benefits to society. If we took the slums of the world and divided them up into small household plots with tenure and title, I guarantee that they would no longer be slums in a decade or less and the homes the process would create would nurture families that would go on to make a success of their lives.

It is no accident that many of our present leaders in Zimbabwe – in every field of endeavor, came out of the families owning the small scale “Purchase Land Farms”. Not only did those small scale commercial farms have the highest standard of living of any community in Zimbabwe, but they raised their families and educated their children who have now gone on to take the lead in our society.  Similar examples can be drawn from every country in the world. If we gave peasant farmers ownership of their land with secure title rights, we would not be able to manage the productivity and output. Such measures would cost us nothing but would unlock massive capital and empower billions.

If I were the President of Zimbabwe for a season, I would spend half my time giving ownership to the poor of the land they occupy. It would be Christmas every day for thousands and our society would never be the same. The other half of my time I would spend asking families what we need to do to make their families work for them. I would tell husbands to love their wives, wives to honor their husbands and children to obey their parents. Such simple rules are not just the stuff of folk lore; they actually work and are the keys to a fulfilled life and satisfaction.

God’s greatest gift to me has been my family – my wife, two children and five grandchildren. Watching them grow and mature into productive, decent human beings is the biggest reward that life has to offer – everything else is nuts by comparison.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo 15th December 2013


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    Apolitical 8 years ago

    and its all Eddie Cross’s fault.
    If he had kept silent we might still have an economy.

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    Well said. You have it in a ‘nut’shell. The only additional comment I would add is ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated’. May Zim have a happy Xmas and a happy, healthy, peaceful and successful 1014.

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    Edzai 8 years ago

    It is difficult to raise a family in such insecure environment as Zimbabwe. Many families have broken down as people seek employment in other countries. Politics in Zimbabwe is anti family, unchristian. If people can realise we all came from God, we would love my neighbours family as I do my own not to seek its destruction.

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      Apolitical 8 years ago

      This nation has been through a great deal but there is more to come.
      Why did it all happen, why was the opposition formed?
      To protect criminals.
      At the time of the first draft constitution John Deary said after it was adopted in answer to complaint.
      PLease dont rock the boat, the who;e objective was to protect Gubbay and McNally they are our friends. We had to negotiate fast tracking land reform to do it, we argued up and down but we were successful in terms of the draft they cant be fired and the farmers will form an opposition party.
      Gubbay and McNally were involved in the mafia legsl fraternity executions at the death wing on the ground floor of the local Catholic Hospital supervised by advocates chambers.
      Under the guise of vitamin injections patients were given lethal injections.
      It was covered up by Michael Auret of the Catholic commission for peace and justice.
      Imagine if you were honest you became a threat to the mafia, into hospital;l for tests and an execution supervised by an advocate – the legal mafias crime had to be covered up didn’t it.
      25 beds were designated for death.
      Today sold to another in the cover up and the exit on the left bricked up the issue remains covered up and Michael Auret became an MP.
      Still under investigation it is now with the ICC as a crime against humanity.
      So when you talk about god and loving your neighbor my friend was murdered there. Yhe sister said in her police statement she just did what she was ordered to do, everyone on thre ground floor was supposed to die, someone should have told her my friend was supposed to live.
      Eddie Cross and others live in a dream world they have no idea that the MDC supported by the legal profession was simply a smoke screen to cover up crime in the legal profession.
      Today the murders are investigated at the Hague by the Head of Information and Evidence, ICC, and fraud and the law society is currently investigated by serious crime on the second floor.
      Only when we know who are neighbour really is, can we love him

      • comment-avatar
        Kevin Watson 8 years ago

        Did father Xmas and the Easter Bunny tell this to you?

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          Apolitical 8 years ago

          Trying writing again Kevin after you get into senior school.

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    You are right Eddy in noting how dysfunctional the family is. I suppose you are noticing it now because for the first time it is affecting your kith and kin albeit not at the same scale as the black majority. That has been the style of life from the colonial error. To us its now a lot better because we can now live together in the urban area unlike yesteryear when only Dad could be allowed a room at Matapi and the wife and children had to stay at dry Mhandamabwe. Of course not all of us could be on the APA and farm because it was for a privileged few.

    As to why 30+ years after independence the changes are minimal, its not easy to dismantle a deliberately crafted policy of denying people where suffering has become a culture. As a people we actually resist being freed.


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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    That Apolitical has got something wrong with himself.

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      Apolitical 8 years ago

      MOre likely John Thomas has something wrong, read what I wrote again slowly – might understand then.

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        Apolitical 8 years ago

        Or those a bit slow do some research, check, I say the head of information/investigation is Mr. M.P.Dillon.
        Now check with St Annes and find out when it was sold and when the exit on the far left was closed up.
        Check how many if any survived the ground floor ward.
        If you cant do that try and sleep so that your brain works again.
        You are why they got away with the executions – walk around in a dream.
        I give the journalists the story of a life time, lets see who is capable of proper research.

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    Oh my word! Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory. Is this whole nation founded on hidden things. We need a God driven truth and healing commission in this nation. We need to repent and confess: in other words we all need to lance that ugly festering boil before God will bless and restore.
    Thank you Eddie, a very refreshing message!

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      Apolitical 8 years ago

      Eddie Cross deals with theory, as does the journalistic fraternity. Theories are waste of time.
      In order to move forward we need to deal with fact.
      The ICC at the HAGUE woill only deql with fact hence the case I mentioned is the only case ever to arrive on their desk from Zimbabwe.
      Interesting isn’t it that all other claims in the press have turned out to be fiction.
      Problem is when there is a genuine case the press will run, they have to play by the rules all press is supposed to be anti government otherwise, foreign funding stops.
      So even if there is a crime against humanity of immense proportions – unlikely that the press will investigate – very few investigative journalists in Zimbabwe, all write what they are told.

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    Parangeta 8 years ago

    That apolitical seems to love the sound of his voice and the look of his words. Maybe we should rename this forum, That would make this foolish one happy! He dreams, as do his mentors on ‘Rotten Row’.