Tim Modise

What are you doing to help?

2006-09-14 09:37

Tim Modise

Thank you for the feedback to the previous article. Recently I completed a series of radio programmes with one impressive young man Buhle Dlamini who ran the Heartlines project. This project was based largely on a series of TV drama programmes that portrayed scenarios that highlighted VALUES that the Mass Media Project sought to promote.

These values I am told, South Africans generally agree upon and are: perseverance, self-control, responsibility, acceptance, love, compassion, forgiveness, honesty and grace. The subsequent television and radio debates generated a lot of debate. People seem to care about these values. But one of the key things that undermine these values is the unreasonable entitlement mentality in this country.

As I write, some greedy and wealthy people believe they are entitled to cheating the tax system whilst some of the poorer counterparts believe they are entitled to destructive behaviour especially when venting their frustrations about their working conditions as evidenced by recent strike actions.

General disrespect

As for the general public we seem bent on contributing our own share of various infringements that undermine the well-being of our society. From littering to beating red traffic lights to rude and aggressive behaviour in public places to general disrespect to those different from us.

Throw into this the frustrations with a variety of serious social problems that are escalating unabated. It is indeed very sad and tragic that many people living with HIV and Aids are reportedly dying by large numbers.

Crime is very much in our faces and everybody is affected by it. The hopelessness and fear brought about by only these two, for there are other problems, has rendered people powerless. In the process, different interest groups and individuals are turning on those in authority and on each other.

In the case of the Aids disaster, the belief is growing that the removal of the Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, will somehow help the fight against the pandemic. That may be the case. But there is something else going on in our society.

In the confused and confusing messages about the pandemic, one message has not been communicated enough. Whereas the emphasis has been on people using condoms and on the provision of free antiretrovirals, the critical message of abstinence and faithfulness stemming the spread of the disease is getting lost in the acrimony surrounding this very confusing beetroot and garlic controversy.

There is also the job of keeping the majority free of HIV infections and here one looks at individuals. It is the part that calls for the responsibility of the individuals. That is what can and should help us reduce the spread of the disease.

Many people have been affected by crime, but very few of us have ever offered to help the police in their task of fighting crime. Some police officers have even been implicated in what should be regarded as the worst crime, the subversion of their colleagues who are working very hard under very difficult circumstances.

Wanton criminality

We are all sick of living with fear of crime, but the glorification of people who cheat and thus rob the system of its due taxes, as well as the habit of buying and selling stolen and illegal goods by some businesses and private citizens, also conspire to create the atmosphere of wanton criminality.

In the face of these challenges individuals like Andre Snyman, who started the eblockwatch internet based crime fighting initiative, following the Leigh Matthews case, have demonstrated what responsible responses can do to empower citizens deal with serious social problems.

His initiative has now become a network of 29 000 crime fighters and is achieving some successes. In the sea of despair, largely fuelled by our unreasonable entitlement, individuals like Buhle Dlamini with his Heartlines project and Andre Snyman with his eBlockwatch initiative are leading the way in demonstrating what we can achieve if we take responsibility for the society we desire.

  • Tim Modise is the chairperson of the Proudly South African Campaign and hosts a weekday show on Radio 702 and Cape Talk.

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