South Africa could use a healthy dose of tolerance & forgiveness

2014-04-04 09:25

Once upon a time there was a country that had a whole bunch of stupid laws that separated people and gave them different standards of living and rights of access according to their skin color.

Almost everyone in the country knew this was a bad idea and that it denied people their human rights and dignity, but being fearful of the unknown the people in this country didn’t know how or where to begin to change it… until one day, when a very smart man came along and gave the people in this country the tools and hope to make the changes they needed to make in order to build a better life for all.

The people rejoiced! The racism was over. Everyone could move on and get on with their new lives and we could walk away from the injustices of the past… except we didn’t.

South Africa is as stuck in apartheid today as what we were 25 or 30 years ago. We haven’t moved on at all.

Tolerance

A few minutes spent trawling the opinion pieces and blogs written by South Africans will show you how rampant the race issue still is in SA.

A glance at the comments on those same posts will reveal that we’ve become a country of mean people, filled with anger and hatred and full of name-calling, shaming, blaming and finger pointing.

There’s always an excuse, a reason why something happened or hasn’t been taken care of – and that excuse is usually racism and apartheid.

From politicians to business people to our youth, everyone in South Africa seems to want to blame everyone else for the things that are happening to them and in their lives – and all it’s doing is creating a whole bunch of hatred, anger and enmity among people.

Well, in the public and media spaces anyway…

Going back to grassroots

In real life, at grassroots level, Black, White, Coloured and Indian people are working and living alongside each other with ease.

We work together, walk together, talk together, and all this horrible hatred that you’re reading about in the media just doesn’t actually seem to be happening in people’s day to day lives and interactions.

Yes, there are the exceptions to this rule, the die-hard racists who will always hate anyone who isn’t like them and doesn’t see their point of view, but that’s got nothing to do with race… those are just nasty, ugly, intolerant people who feel the need to troll in real life.

The forgiveness issue

Forgiveness gets spoken about a lot when it comes to the South Africa apartheid issue, and people of colour come back with the same answer every time: we can’t forget and forgive and move on, because you can’t just get over something like this.

Um, actually, you can. It takes a little bit of effort and work yes, but that’s exactly the point of forgiveness… it recognises that what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred.

It’s not about forgetting what happened, but it is about releasing the anger and negative emotion around the incident that occurred so that you free up energy and power to be able to create the positive new life that you want – the happy future that ALL South Africans wanted when the apartheid changeover happened… and still want today.

The very thing that is stopping people of all colours in this country from achieving what it is they want to achieve is their lack of forgiveness.

Don’t believe me? Well here’s some scientific proof…

Molecules of Emotion

Candace Pert is a phenomenal scientist and researcher who discovered the opiate receptor site on cells.

Pert’s PhD research gave us the understanding we needed to create the medication that stops heroin and other opiate drug addicts from absorbing the drug into their system, saving countless lives and enabling those addicted to these horrible drugs to have a chance to recover.

Her research showed that we have receptor sites on every single one of our cells, each only allowing a specific chemical or combination of chemicals to be absorbed into the cell.

Every emotion you feel is a combination of chemicals released from your brain that are then absorbed by their dedicated receptor sites on your cells, causing you to experience what you know as a feeling.

The really interesting bit though is where Pert’s research showed that when cells split every 7 to 21 days, the two “new” cells that come from this split contain more receptor sites for the emotions that you have been feeling regularly over the previous 7 to 21 days.

So, basically, if you’ve been angry or intolerant or feeling a lot of hatred, you have more capacity to feel those emotions after 7 to 21 days – and less capacity to feel other different emotions.

What this means for us as South Africans is that the longer we keep going with the lack of forgiveness and intolerance the bigger those emotions are going to get collectively, and the more difficult we are making it for ourselves to come back from that.

The only way to fix the conundrum we’re in is to find forgiveness and start fostering and feeling care, compassion and love.

This way, our capacity for the positivity grows and we’re able to collectively move towards the positive, joyful and successful country we’d like to live in and create.

Practically speaking…

If I could wave a magic wand or had three wishes, there are three practical changes I’d love to see in South Africa that could move us towards the better place we want to be in.

1. Change the history we teach to classical history; it offers the same lessons and insights but doesn’t keep our youth mired in the emotional problems of the past. It gives a chance to finally let go of apartheid.

2. Introduce a flat 10% tax rate for ALL citizens so that everyone is invested in the country and we’re not teetering on the edge of economic collapse with 9,2% of us trying to support the other 90,8% of people.

3. Make the tax collectors’ roll the voters roll, so that you only get a say if you are an active, contributing member of society, and you can only vote if your tax is up-to-date.

Yes, apartheid was a nasty, ugly way to live and do things. Yes, horrible things happened, but they’re not happening now – you’re just keeping them alive by talking about them all the time and using them as excuses so that you don’t have to stop being lazy and actually get on with the job of creating a future for yourself.

No one wants to take responsibility for anything that is said or done or for fixing the problems, because it’s easier to finger point and blame than what it is to actually do the hard work that needs to be done to make this country work again.

We need new approaches, new voices and largely, we need to grow up and get over ourselves.

We cannot change the past, but by simply changing what we’re saying to each other in person and in media and what we’re putting out there in terms of compassion, forgiveness and love, we CAN turn this country and its future around.

And don’t we all actually deserve the better life for all we’ve been promised over the last twenty years?

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