I have been an avid follower of the articles on News24, and consequently of the comments made by the readers. What has become clear to me is that the greatest divide amongst all South Africans is not race or religion, but ATTITUDE.
Life coaches and motivational speakers like to use the word ATTITUDE in their lectures for one reason – if you add up all the numerical values of the letters which make up the word, the total is 100. To make this clear :
A T T I T U D E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100
A large number of people are blaming apartheid – even those that were not born during the apartheid era and who did not experience apartheid first-hand. Others blame racism. The Oxford English Dictionary has defined “racism” as, inter alia, “a theory that human abilities are determined by race”. I find that interesting – a theory. According to United States English, racism is defined as “discrimination”, “prejudice”, “bigotry”, “intolerance”.
Aren’t these words all just a reflection of attitudes ? And herein lies the problem - aren’t our attitudes influenced by our perceptions ?
The White South Africans perceive that the majority of Black South Africans are criminals, predisposed to violence. This perception is actually borne out by the murder and rape statistics, most of which are carried out by Black South Africans – on both Black and White people. Very seldom is there a report of a White South African raping and murdering a Black South African.
Black South Africans, on the other hand, think that the majority of White South Africans are racist and support or wish for the return of Apartheid. Their perception of White South Africans is that they are the “elite”, and have everything their own way. This perception is clearly flawed, as the Government policies of AAA and BBEEE have marginalized White South Africans.
The present Government and the state of the country do not do anything to improve White and Black South Africans’ perception of each other. The majority of the people who make up the Government have proved that they are corrupt, inept, and care nothing for the welfare of the people who voted them into power – both Black and White. This attitude has been carried down to the so-called “leaders” of the country – and this group of leaders includes teachers, nurses and doctors, law enforcement officers and other community leaders. It also includes parents and older siblings.
Your attitude, whether towards yourself (self-respect) or towards others is what shapes your life. Your attitude towards your situation is what shapes your life. How you rise to challenges, shape up to and overcome adversity, that is what shapes your life. Your attitude towards others is what shapes their perception of you. Whether your attitude is as a result of personal experience or from what you have been taught or from what you perceive, it is something that is truly your own.
And therefore it is something that you, and only you, can change.
This message is particularly relevant and to the youth of South Africa, now more than ever, with elections looming in 2014. You do not have to accept the situation in which you find yourself. You deserve to be the best that you can be. You deserve to be taught by leaders who lead by example and not by intimidation. This group of “leaders” includes your parents as, for perhaps the first time, you hold their future – and yours - in your hands.
What is required is a change in attitude, in how you perceive others and, importantly, in how you perceive yourself. Once you are able to believe in your own worth, you will find that your perception of and attitude towards others will change. You will be able to take responsibility for your actions – good or bad – and learn from the consequences – good or bad.
And taking responsibility for your own life and making the right choices - that is the road to real freedom.