In South Africa today, I find that the voice of reason is drowned out by many other voices, and it saddens me.
The voice of reason gleams through all the bias, prejudice and ulterior motives like golden nuggets on a riverbed, unmistakable, but never-the-less tiny. Unfortunately, by way of human nature, those who stand to gain out of division and hatred will continue to sow only that, and leave the great majority in this country believing that the voice of reason comes from those with evil plans to recreate apartheid, destroy the consciousness of the black man, or likewise to ruin their white utopia forever. Even when that voice of reason comes from ones own people, no matter how you identify yourself, it is rejected as the words of a “veraaier”, and in the end, emotions and superstition win the day.
Stalwarts like Max Du Preez and Moeletsi Mbeki, should be leading our country, for it is voices like theirs that many people choose to ignore. Our leaders, those who are supposed to unite us, love using the fears of the average man and woman to capitalize on their misguided opinions, leaving the academics helpless and the people voting with their heart and not their brain.
The National Party used this fear tactic in their 1948 electoral campaign, and it kept them in power for a good 46 years, until eventually, reason was victorious in 1994. Alas it was only short lived as those who came into power found that the fear of the past would leave them unchallenged and able to rule somewhat arrogantly and uncontested, confident in the knowledge that their support base, numbering in the millions, remain poorly educated and fearful of voting someone else in to power. Truth is, what more can we expect, apartheid failed to educate a lot of people and left them barely able to read or write, which leaves them incapable of finding their own truth and unwilling to participate in active debate over what is right and what isn’t. Before I am criticized, there are a lot of the educated elite who stand by the ANC never-the-less, regardless of its performance, and that is in my opinion, merely down to loyalty. It is exactly the same for a vast majority of the minority groups, they are still voting for what they perceive to be a ‘white’ party, or an “Indian Party” and then some of them think that rubbing the well maintained suburbs of the DA into the noses of our comrades will make them change their minds and say, ‘Oh well, perhaps you are right, I will sacrifice my liberator for your white lady.” It will never happen as much as we like to believe it may. And besides, the DA does seem to look after the higher rate paying suburbs better, but perhaps the truth is, that this is what generates an economy. Make sure your wealthy are fat and happy and they stay on to create more jobs, only with a bit of encouragement though. In the meantime, workers earning R2500 a month will be forced to walk through pretty suburbs on their way home to a crime ridden township, without feeling a little bit envious. I am a communist, but the voice of reason allows me to see both sides of economics. And so tongue in cheek, I probably can’t call myself a fundamental commie.
Like the National Party, the ANC will remain largely unchallenged for a few decades. Yes I agree it is not a healthy system, but convincing everyone without offending them will be difficult. How do you explain to people that having an opposition, regardless of its skin colour, is healthy. If the voice of reason was a value we all cherished, then that situation would already exist. Perhaps what we need is an electoral revolution, something more akin to the Americans, where democracy apparently thrives…
I must mention however, that all sides need to be careful of how they express their oppinion, as Max Du Preez has emphasized in one of his recent articles, we have to realize that voicing our opinion, even though it is an open minded, unbiased one, can be used by misguided individuals, whose opinions rarely involve open minded research. Rather they are swayed by emotion, and they will take the criticisms of others as assurance of their own biased agenda.
Before I move to the more optimistic, I lastly have to point out the caliber which seems to be exhibited by a lot of the ordinary ANC members, the “Groupies” if I can so call them. Whilst driving to Capetown on Saturday the 15th December, I stopped at one of those roadside stations preceding Mangaung, and noticed a group of youngsters walking around with ANC T-shirts on, depicting their choice of president for the ANC, what disappointed me was the arrogance displayed by these youngsters, the kind of arrogance that can only be attributed to entitlement. Flashy cars, money, and rudeness to those they interacted with. It made me think of the Apartheid youngsters, regaled in police uniform, disrespecting elderly black ladies or gentlemen, in this case it was elderly whites. However the major difference between then and now, is the strong democratic foundation of the ANC. Fortunately the organization still yields more power than the individual, and any attack or disrespect shown, whether racially inspired or not, is considered a crime or an individual act, not policy. During apartheid, this luxury was not afforded to those who today afford us the opportunity. As much as we want to criticize the ANC, we cannot do so without being hypocritical. Because democracy is still very much alive in our country, 18 years old to be exact. Yes individuals will push the boundaries to see how far they can go before they are reigned in and all we need to watch out for is that those reigns don’t start extending ever further. I must also mention that my comments on the rude youngsters from both race groups is a generalization, and it would be hypocritical of me to label all as such, there are many very decent ANC cadres whose intentions remain honourable. I wonder whether I could sway the generalization over to the NP youths and say not all were evil sadists, but rather that some were decent God fearing humans. And before some of you say no, no, no, well, F.W. De Klerk was NP, so was Chris Heunis, in fact so too was Roelf Meyer and Frederick Tomlinson who didn’t agree with Verwoerds idea of the Homelands.
So where am I going with this and how does what I have said, tie in with the concept of the “voice of reason”?
What I have said highlights both the good and the bad, it highlights the facts most people miss when constructing their arguments, because politicians don’t win votes on the truth, they win on emotion, and the doomsday prophets don’t look at reason or truth because it just doesn’t get the emotions going as much as a good old uhuru story does. What we as humans need to try and do, is to be open minded when criticizing, we need people to start valuing reason over emotion, this can only be achieved by changing the way we think and educating ourselves. We need to educate ourselves and seek the truth, don’t start out with an opinion and then look for facts to substantiate it. Rather sit down, and look at history in its entirety, you will find old notions of bias being broken and unprejudiced thoughts starting to develop. Yes you cannot ask an individual whose only interest in history is how it screwed them over, to take a keen and unbiased approach to it, in fact trying to explain it to them would only appear disrespectful. Ask any working class Afrikaner in 1950 how they felt about the English, and you would get a “Paar Vloek Woorde”. Today a lot of them flock to England to become British Citizens, and I think their forefathers would be shaking in their graves. What we need to do is show people that their history is paralleled by previous generations, show them how taking the entire human history into context, reveals that humans lust for power has resulted in all the ugly things we today call politically incorrect. How any human, given the uncontested opportunity, will seek to rule over other humans, it is sick, but true, and why we now desire to create societies whose constitutions prevent this? The fact that through out history some humans have been dominated whilst others ruled, has nothing to do with individual intellect or ability, or genetic strengths, but merely because of their circumstances, geographic location, population size, proximity to trading routes and the list goes on and on. Now you can see how a true student of history, intent on finding truth, will start to feel the scales falling from their previous misperceptions. As much as we want to hate and fuel the fires of emotion in us, we owe it to our awesome human design, to stop and reassess our approach, to be open minded and always ask the question, is what I believe a generalization, and does it make me a hypocrite, if you know the answer to those two questions and yet fight to ignore it, then alas, the voice of reason will have been sacrificed for your selfish desire to keep believing that which condones your biased approach. That which specifically makes your greed and arrogance seem justified.
If I have now got you to sit on the edge of your chair and consider what has been said, then hopefully many of you will at least experience a brief moment of clarity, where pride and prejudice give way to humility and respect, and you forget all those biased notions you so dearly clung onto for identity. For some I hope that the voice of reason becomes a permanent one. Because we all fall short of this at some point, we all look to our apparent identity when things don’t seem to go our way, and we look for reasons outside of ourselves, and use this to placate our frustration.
Wayne Mark Tomlinson