Five things you can do for SA today

2013-08-11 09:16

When Khalil Gibran penned the famous lines, later immortalised by the late US President John F. Kennedy "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask you can do for your country", he challenged his fellow Lebanese compatriots with the following observation adapted by me namely that there are today, in South Africa, two types of people,one (who lives in the) past and one (who looks to the)future" He ends his challenge with this question " Which one are you?"

I will not, and I do not pretend to be judgmental. Nor do I have the answers or the solutions to the myriad of problems that scourge our beloved and beautiful motherland. I will, however, like Gibran pose that challenge to you, my fellow South Africans. As he went on to say 'let me look at you, and let me be assured by your appearance" and, I will add, your written response, " and conduct if you are one of those coming into the light or going into the darkness."

So which type are you? Come, share with me who and what are you. Truly are you a parasitic type who keeps demanding what your country can do for you, or are you a patriot who declares what you can do for your country?

Like our forefathers who toiled incessantly to build our country I believe we, the present generation can likewise do the same. You cannot simply wave a wand and, hey presto, alles is reg nou. There are, I opine, five simple things you can do for South Africa.

Firstly, avoid carping criticism entirely if you don't have a sustainable and working solution. I believe every one has a solution. Find common cause even with your most diehard opponent and instead of both of you talking past one another, talk to one another with courtesy and dignity. You will be surprised how much positive can be achieved.

Secondly,avoid insults and barbed comments. They only entrench hostility and historic hurts.Lets acknowledge the wrongs of the past and look to the blueprint that is presented in the Constitution of our country. Everyone,  for instance, has the inherent right to life and human dignity. If we look backwards as we try to move forward we are bound to constantly trip and fall. This, I believe, is part of the cause for retardation of the realisation of that blueprint.

Thirdly, theTRC process was a monumental failure because it was not people driven but orchestrated by a negotiated, band-aid type, quick fix political process. A great deal of the past remained in the crevices of history. We need that people driven process and you,my country men and women, and I should initiate that process where we talk to one another, and reconcile the past with the present in a restorative justice type format. We have to be willing to make sacrifices.

Fourthly, we must become agents of change instead of relegating that responsibility to political parties alone. Everyone wants to be a beneficiary and why not. We can change what we want through the institutions that the Constitution provides for us. I sincerely believe we can do it.

Fifthly,avoid and oppose those who weave for themselves a garment, in Gibran's refrain, "out of ignorance (and,may I add, fear as well as prejudice) of the people, fashioning a crown out of the simplicity of their hearts" and living off their fears and ignorance. Knowledge is power that they fear.

I reiterate that I do not have answers or solutions but I believe that these five simple things, if we sincerely do collectively and out of principle and determination,do have the potential to achieve positive results. I sincerely believe you and I are good citizens and patriots and that by our efforts we can truly in Alan Paton's refrain declare "Ah, but your land is beautiful".

Saber Jazbhay



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