Acting Out - South African Style

2016-01-08 11:36

South Africans are an angry people. We are irritable and snappish and we just can’t seem to get along. We name call, we provoke and we are fight amongst ourselves. We blame each other and we are quick to point out the failings of our fellow citizen. What’s more, we like to do this on social media.

The tsunami of hate has washed over the country in an unprecedented and catastrophic wave. In its wake the country has been left damaged and exposed with the survivors wondering how the infrastructure could have been so fragile so as to collapse with such ease. Wondering how it is that one offensive and vile comment from a person we had never heard of could trigger such destruction? How it is that tweet after tweet, comment after comment could contain such animosity so as to destroy that which we have worked so hard for.

And it’s not all our fault. The current heat wave is making us testy and the current government is making us panic. South Africans are under massive strain. Economically the country is floundering. Food shortages loom and inflation has become a massive fear as the Rand has all but collapsed. What is worse is that we don’t trust government to lead us through this. We feel desperately afraid of our future. We have witnessed them make startlingly poor decisions one after the other as they cling desperately to power, not taking into account the frantic cries of the people they serve.

And in our frustration we have turned on each other.

Everyone knows this. When mom and dad are not getting along, when there is discord in the home, when there is financial stress and neglect, it is the children who suffer. And more often than not they will not focus on their parents but rather antagonise each other. Very much as South Africans have done in the last week. Very much as South Africans did when we attacked foreigners in the streets because it was easier to blame the outsider than to look at the government who is tasked with managing economic growth, infrastructure development, education and healthcare. And so we blame the Blacks, the Whites, the foreigners and any identifiable group along the way. All because at least we can get a reaction. At least they will hear us. And maybe, if we behave badly enough, then mom and dad will might give us some attention. Any attention.

There is no excuse for some of the putrid things have been said. None whatsoever. We have embarrassed ourselves and have defiled our history. And what’s more by abusing the magnificence of freedom of speech, we have endangered it. We have created an environment in which honest and important debate can be labeled as racist by anyone not agreeing with us. We have set the scene for a witch-hunt, and hunt witches we do.

And its only January. South Africans should be well rested, high-spirited and fat; more concerned about their tight trousers following the season of excess and indulgence than politics and anger. We have hardly even begun our work- year, our children are not yet at school and somehow we are as angry as we would be in the midst of winter when the warmth of the festive season seems too far away. We have kicked off the year stressed and irritable and we need to look at the cause and not pick on our siblings.

Simply put, South Africans are under massive strain. We have a President who cares more for his political survival than for his people and a governing party who has shamed itself and its history. In doing so it has let down the very people it were elected to care for. It’s time for South Africans to stop fighting amongst each other and rather look to the source of the problem.

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