Perception is everything!

2015-10-31 18:21

South Africa is a country of diversity and complexity. South Africans are facing immense challenges in bridging their differences. We are a nation comprised of different cultures, different languages, different skin colours and different values. We have different socio-economic circumstances and different political views. We are indeed cosmopolitan by nature…That in itself is a challenge, but it can also be a benefit. If we pull together, if we learn to overcome our political differences, the rainbow of which we are comprised can become a bridge towards a pot of gold…

However, that is going to take some effort, not just from ordinary citizens, but also from political leaders, interest groups and lobbyists. Our political leaders and other influential people in society have to become conscious of what they do and what they say, especially in public. Political leaders and their counterparts have immense influence! Their actions sometimes speak louder than words. It contributes towards what ordinary South Africans feel and think. It adds to how we perceive each other…

The latest elephant in the room of South Africa is Solidarity’s plan to start a “parallel government”. While it is inherently good to focus on the solutions to overcome the lack of service delivery, there is a danger to limit it to one section of the population. If we seek solutions to the problems in our country we have to focus on what will work for everybody. We can’t exclude certain groups on the basis that we have to look after ourselves. We have to follow an inclusive approach…

Solidarity has a good idea. Yes the private sector has to step in where government fails. An organization like Solidarity has a lot to offer and to contribute. However they have to change their approach. Focusing on white Afrikaans citizens exclusively will lead to further polarization in an already divided society. They have to find middle ground. There has to be a way that a solution can be offered to service delivery without excluding certain sections of the population. The way that Solidarity operates creates the perception that white South Africans think they should enjoy certain privileges. It strengthens the skewed perception among other race groups that white South Africans see themselves as separate, special, different and even better. What a pity!

There is no golden rule when it comes to politics. Every society is unique. Every society has unique problems. However all humans have the same fundamental needs. All humans want to have homes, clean drinking water, enough food and money to afford the bare necessities. It is a fact that can’t be ignored.

The important role players such as Solidarity have to take note of this. They have to stop making speeches, saying and doing things that contribute towards the cultural divide. Yes Afrikaners have a common history. Yes we share the same language, the same culture. However we live in a new society, a society that is supposed to pull together. If we are serious about our future, if we want this country to succeed on a political and economic level, those in leadership positions have to start taking responsibility. They have to watch their tongues and their actions. They have to be aware that every word that they speak and everything that they do creates a perception. It can be a perception which becomes either a building block or a stumbling block towards a unified nation. In the end it all about the way we perceive each other.

There is a better tomorrow, but for that tomorrow to be better, we have to change today’s words and actions. Politicians and all others take note: perception is everything!

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