Are you ok with ok?

2013-11-21 08:27

I’m not.

I know, another political(esque) discussion, but this 2014 thing is still weighing on my mind. I’m still ruminating on my precious vote and do not think that political parties are doing enough, consistently, to make things more than just ok for a nation with as much potential as South Africa.

The very things that make us special, makes us conflicted. I often hear the Germany comparison and how we have not done “anything” in 20 years as we should have. We cannot compare South Africa to other countries, as we have unique demographics.

The ANC have not done enough. The DA has not done enough. We have not done enough. My vote has been swayed ever more towards EFF, not because I believe in what they are saying, or because I necessarily like them, but because they are the thorn in the side that will hopefully make the government and opposition wake up and realise that we cannot settle for mediocrity. On the other hand, this also irks me as I’m reminded of how I wasted my vote with COPE when they were the great new hype.

Just this week Patricia de Lille lamented an article by T.O. Molefe, citing all the good that Cape Town has done, but this bragging is obsolete when even one person is still living a destitute existence.

What are we, however, doing about it? Ours is a history that many do not want to go back to, and therein lies the problem. With such trauma to compete with, and a leadership aware of this, people will forever stay in their boxes of comfort, even when it is not ideal. The person living in a shack has, and probably will, invariably vote for the ANC as they were the undeniable vocal voice of the struggle.

Those on the bottom rung of society are too scared that things will get worse than they already are for them, and of course those at the top (including government fat cats) are unwilling to give up that seat.

The recent viral video of the hijacking in Johannesburg reminded me of how normalised we are to conditions that should not be normal. When I drive, I keep an even more necessary than usual following distance, in case of hijackings, and night time calls for even more vigilance. This is due to the threat, even in the safest of areas, of what I believe is the danger awaiting me. When I dated someone who lived on a farm, and visiting a farm with him, I was surprised that he did not lock doors and felt safe at night. I, on the other hand, growing up in the big city (even though it was a safe suburb) thought this was ludicrous. Ever the optimist, I used to see this paranoia as a good effect of living in a country where crime is that much of a reality. I now realise that this was a cop-out and was my way of saying that it’s ok, instead of doing more.

Speaking to someone about the recent passing of the new laws in India for rape offenders, and how we still have not caught on despite “high profile” cases such as Anene Booysen, makes me wonder what more would it take for civil society to wake up. I do not advocate for the death penalty, but enough is not being done. As shocking as it might sound, it would probably take a government minister directly being affected by rape (or even education, because let’s face it, they would not tolerate sub-par education for their children or themselves, or share a tap, or take a shit in a bucket) to finally see that enough is not being done, as it should.

Militant action might not be ideal, or favourable, but we need to at least start getting militant in our attitudes and rhetoric. Waiting around for a government official to speak up, and stand up for you will be a waiting game with no end. Arming yourself with knowledge, as I mentioned in my previous post, is one step, but it cannot end there.  Many of us who attend seminars, public lectures and political rallies will know the empowered feeling that comes with being in a power space such as that. What happens when you leave this space? Reality sets in and we deflate back to reality.

Whether it’s a guy grabbing a girl’s butt as if he owns her, or someone giving you a hard time over something seemingly irrelevant, when your rights are violated, ask yourself, are you really ok with just “ok”?

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