South African Citizenry: Are Our Hearts Too Hardened?

2015-09-01 15:19

As the recent anniversary of Marikana drew everyone into moments of reflection, more and more commentary regarding the role of government and the heartlessness of CEOs in mining boardrooms filled the airwaves, pages and news columns. As much as this anger [perhaps righteously] directed at all actors involved was well warranted, I still wondered whether perpetual tangents by reporters and the public were (or still are) the best way to utilize our energies. Beyond apologetic grovelling to the president as the victim of supposed media libel, I was drawn back to a question directed at a recent public discussion on transformation at the Howard College campus.

Has the middle class sold out?

Have we been reduced to reading and talking over one another on stages, in seminars and social media platforms? This was something put forth by Nazeema Mohammed, a veteran in transformation planning in higher education. Contributions to the discussion, as insightful as they were, still seemed like Déjà vu to most students in attendance, and was made abundantly clear by most who were accorded the chance to speak. With the state of government, moral, educational (referring to the shocking increase in falsified qualifications) just in general terms of capacity, should it not be ourselves who need to make greater strides in developing our communities? Individual impact need not be felt to national scale, but should start in one’s local community, where influence takes more immediate effect. More than the embittered trolling on internet articles and bigoted grumblings at home lamenting divisions of class, wealth, race and state aligned sycophants, citizens should be geared to help one another where they can, and in whatever capacity possible.

It may be that times such as these, where freedom affords choice to individuals to do as they please often results in the abuse of that very choice, bitterly fought for by our predecessors and now squandered by elites, and perhaps ourselves. Where calls for cohesion by the government are only meted out when their interests and self-image are at risk, educated and resourced people should begin to ask where they should start acting in their own capacity, irrespective of what government is [perceived to be] doing. Transformation it seems may not only have to do with structural and economic reform, but a change of heart and mind in the ordinary citizen as well. Beyond moaning in our disgruntled everyday commute to work or staring at the newspaper, we could be more courteous to one another, making efforts to help wherever we can. More than an impassioned plea for nation building, I thought this article more pertinent to talk to the [reasonably well off] South African who, as they read this, may begin to reflect on their role and circle of influence, and how it may reach others.

Investing time and energy in things which will have lasting effect are more meaningful to us in our finite lifespans. No matter how much money one can make, the dying wishes of most are simply to leave behind a favourable memory of themselves and their work. This lies in as much what they did for their family as it does for work in their community. We as South African’s have become accustomed to disappointment and expectant to failure, but as a resilient people, we press on, even as we grudge the state of affairs and leadership problems plaguing the country. Perhaps beyond our discomfort in the state of the nation, we can find more in common, that of our country's future and the stake of our descendants who'll come to inherit it. To work together and achieve things as ordinary people, can become our new point of commonality and human connection. Degrees of separation between race, language, wealth gaps and a myriad of other factors do present considerable challenges, but I’m still a believer in the spirit of South Africa and its people. Call it blind patriotism, call it what you will, but the potential and beauty that lies in this country holds as much promise as does the foreboding of doom and gloom. The good story to tell is yet to be written It’s just up to each of us individually to write a line, each day we wake.   News24 Voices Terms & Conditions.


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