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Lillies of the Valley

03 January 2013, 13:23

South Africa can be criticized in numerous ways. There’s enough criticism to go around for everyone for the rest of the New Year. But, as a local, I have come to admire many of its people. I’ve heard about and come across many South Africans for whom I take off my hat. I’ve realized that a portion of South Africans are skillful, innovative, intelligent and talented folk. You could tell by how well CharlezeTheron portrayed her role as a serial killer in the movie, Monster. Or how Bennie McCarthy does back-flips to fire a ball into the net, or how in a time when it seemed impossible, Dr. Chris Barnard realized a successful heart transplant. How Nelson Mandela rose from the ashes and stilled the fears of a whole nation. Google “South African Inventions”, I bet some of you never knew the CAT-scan was invented by a South African.

Not to go too far, in my day-to-day life, I sometimes am amazed at how some of my friends are actually born comedians. How easily they detect the right time to say the right thing that’ll leave you ROTFL. I sometimes think to myself, with just the right guidance, this guy can become a household name.

Yesterday I read two articles, one was written by a theist, the other by an atheist. Both were fascinating reads (in my opinion). What I enjoyed was how both contributors carefully laid-out their arguments. How they made me see the world through their eyes, and what I saw was two people (although opposed) with great depth and understanding of our society. The discussed concepts I never fathomed before. Very knowledgeable writers. I thought to myself should these two contributors be teachers, I would not mind sending my kids to that school. Or should they be politicians, I would not mind belonging to that party. What was fascinating to me was not the subject of the articles but the logic and reason the writers applied (“Theist? . . . with LOGIC and REASON?” the atheist scoffed.)

New Year’s Day, I took a taxi from town to my township back home. I sat next to a teenage  girl. She must have been 15 or 16 years old. She was reading a book. First of all, (where I come from) it’s very rare to see a teenager reading a book instead of typing off on a blackberry. Secondly, it was New Year’s Day, school’s been closed for a long while and wouldn’t be opening for a long while either so, I knew she wasn’t studying or something of that sort. I greeted her and asked her what she was reading. She flipped the book to show me the cover. I saw the silhouette of an open veld and a single thorn tree against the backdrop of a sunset horizon, printed at the bottom was “Cry The Beloved Country.” From there we started a conversation about good books we’ve read before. I could tell she loved reading and I was amazed at how well she could quote from books published  years ago. This girl would never know this but she lit up a dark area in my heart that had no hope for the younger generation. She inspired me. Even for her, with the type of peers she is surrounded by, I take off my hat. Before I got off the taxi, I told her to never stop reading because it’s one of the best ways to educate yourself beyond what you are taught at school.

My father once told me, “You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one; each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.” . . . Okay, . . . my father never said that. I’m just being dramatic. But it’s still true. Amongst the chaos in this country, there are miracles. But the chaos gets too much attention. So, after we beat each other up over who’s wrong and who’s right, how do we move forward? And the answer to that lies not with the politician but with the skillful, innovative, intelligent and talented folk of South Africa, who is our daily miracle.

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