We choose what we believe

2019-06-03 11:48
(Supplied, OurFriends.co)

(Supplied, OurFriends.co)

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There are some key concepts relevant to the algorithm (High tea with Thuli Madonsela discussing 'white privilege' and 'black advantage'): people and power; freedom of choice and dignity; "here to get" or "here to give".

Whatever society values gives power to the person who has it vis a vis the person who does not. Being unaware of this power, in which your own effort might have been essential, e.g. a self-made entrepreneur, or largely irrelevant, e.g. being perceived as attractive, will at best make you unempathetic towards the "have-nots", and at worst self-righteously arrogant.

In his book on endocrinology Dr Dick Schwaab postulates that body weight is up to 80% determined by genetics. Should this be true, think about the undeserved positives attributed to thin people, and the undeserved negatives to fat people. Race is like that too. Society still assumes a lot of positives about white people and a lot of negatives about black people. All whites are thus privileged.

The absence of choice impedes human dignity. We thus have capitalism, a great contributor to inequality, to work with to eradicate inequality. My choice to not "self-help" will have negative consequences for me.

Whether I see myself as here to give or here to get, determines whether I see myself as in control of my destiny, or a helpless victim. I have control over what I contribute (what I give) and not over outcomes (what I get). To live an empowered life, I need to focus on contributing to the process of living and become less attached to specific outcomes. For an individual to overcome trauma (what they got), a shift from "what it did to me" to "how it enabled me" has to take place. Courage is required to become empowered. For apartheid victims too.

We choose what we believe. Believing "critical race theory" keeps black individuals captured in victimhood. Believing the poor must just "self-help" denies the impact of apartheid and generational poverty, absolving all the rich, getting ever richer from compound interest on capital outstripping wage increases, from seeing the situation for what it is, and giving what is due. This too takes courage.

Annette Stinnes

Social development consultant and sustainability lecturer

Bellville, Cape Town

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