Worldviews matter. They always have. It’s not enough to change governments or constitutions or even to have a constitution as we are learning in the United States.
South Africa is falling apart at the seams. Why? The character of the people.
In his book The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization Vishal Mangalwadi shows how it was the Christian worldview that created the idea of cultural exceptionalism. He begins by describing a 1982 conversation he had with a Sikh gentleman who was returning to England after visiting his parents in a Punjab village in northwest India.
He explained to Mangalwadi that doing business in England was easy and profitable. The man could not speak English very well, and yet he was a successful businessman. Mangalwadi wondered, “How could someone who spoke such poor English succeed as a businessman in England?” So I asked, “Tell me, sir, why is business so easy in England?” Without pausing, he answered, “Because everyone trusts you there.”
In the same chapter, Mangalwadi tells how he and his Dutch host went to a dairy farm to get some milk. There was no one to greet them or take their money. He and his host opened the tap, filled the jug, put the money in a jar, and took their change. Here was Mangalwadi’s reaction:
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. ‘Man,’ I said, ‘if you were an Indian, you would take the milk and the money!’ [His host] laughed. But in that instant, I understood what the Sikh businessman had been trying to tell me.”
Mangalwadi pulls all this together with an astute observation:
“How did ordinary Holland become so different from our people in India and Egypt? The answer is simple. The Bible taught the people of Holland that even though no human being may be watching us in that dairy farm, God, our ultimate judge, is watching to see if we obey His commands neither to covet nor steal. According to the Bible, ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account’ [Heb. 4:13].”
If you want to see cultures change, then it’s necessary to get to the root of the problem – a society’s worldview.
Consider these comments from Josh Gelernter at National Review:
“Things are very bad in South Africa. When the scourge of apartheid was finally smashed to pieces in 1994, the country seemed to have a bright future ahead of it. Eight years later, in 2002, 60 percent of South Africans said life had been better under apartheid. Hard to believe — but that’s how bad things were in 2002. And now they’re even worse. When apartheid ended, the life expectancy in South Africa was 64 — the same as in Turkey and Russia. Now it’s 56, the same as in Somalia. There are 132.4 rapes per 100,000 people per year, which is by far the highest in the world: Botswana is in second with 93, Sweden in third with 64; no other country exceeds 32.
“Before the end of apartheid, South African writer Ilana Mercer moved, with her family, to Israel; her father was a vocal opponent of apartheid, and was being harassed by South African security forces. A 2013 piece on World Net Daily quotes Mercer as saying, with all her anti-apartheid chops, that ‘more people are murdered in one week under African rule than died under detention of the Afrikaner government over the course of roughly four decades.’
“The South African government estimates that there are 31 murders per 100,000 people per year. Or about 50 a day. That would make South Africa the tenth most murderous country in the world, outpacing Rwanda, Mexico, and both Sudans. And that’s using South Africa’s official estimates — outside groups put the murder rate 100 percent higher. Choosing not to trust the South African authorities is a safe bet — South Africa’s government, which has been led by Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress since the end of apartheid, is outstandingly incompetent and corrupt.”