Active citizens can make SA a winning nation

2015-02-19 13:38

Ferial Haffajee says "ordinary citizens must fill the gap left by the country’s lack of leadership." Absolutely.

I totally agree too that this country is suffering not a deficit of heroes but an unnecessary desire for heroes.

Back in the 1970s when all our great leaders were in jail or exiled, ordinary people mobilised themselves around a powerful idea: that the mind of the victim is the most powerful weapon of the oppressor. Given that, psychological liberation was the key to physical and political liberation.

Since then, that great insight has been lost and instead of liberating ourselves we focus on where others are going wrong. In a free democratic society, ordinary people have massive capacity to mobilise themselves and others of like mind to make a difference. Yet we are still stuck in the mindset of opposing a police state: stay passive until things get really bad, then seek safety in numbers in mass protest.

I am part of a new movement that aims to break out of this mindset and mobilise active citizens. We call it SA Win to emphasise that we can make ourselves a winning nation through the power of active citizens. We work on community building, tackling problems of poverty and lack of opportunity by empowering those who have been left out.

The key to making all this real is leaving behind the mindset of focus on the other. There is the other who made things bad for us (the apartheid regime, the abusive relationship, the dysfunctional school); we seek a messianic other who will turn things around. The only resource we can rely on is ourselves. Let us put that to good use.

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