i like to call myself ‘The Eternal Optimist’
This is particularly true when it comes to sport, and especially cricket. If it is still mathematically possible, i hold on hope to the very end, even if it looks really likely that we are going to lose. And then get genuinely surprised when we do.
i like to think i am the same with people to a large extent. i want to believe the best of a person. Which is why when someone hurts me or i hurt them, i tend to do whatever i can to make peace, often pursuing long after people think i should move on. And always leaving the door open, on the off chance that person wants to restore relationship.
i also like to think i am someone who doesn’t care what people thinks about me.
Although, having been married for five years to tbV, i know that is not true. The person who means the most to you’s opinion does tend to hold much weight.
And after a few years of having a blog, i have found that hurtful comments can and on occasion do have a deeply hurtful effect. Even when you know they are not true.
THERE IS A TIME TO ANSWER, AND A TIME TO REMAIN SILENT [AND WALK AWAY]
The last two days in particular, for some reason, unknown to me, knocked me a little bit. Part of it is the eternal optimism and the hope that people can and will change if they are just presented with reason [Although i am grateful for other people who jumped into the comment sections like Garth, Nkosi, Michael and Nicole who provided a calmer and more balanced voice of reason than mine] and also caring so deeply about the topic at hand – race and reconciliation, particularly in South Africa.
But these two guys managed to get to me a little, more for their comments and the attitudes that seemed to be prevailing behind them. And these are just two of their many comments that flooded the blog [some that i posted, some that i chose not to]:
”If they breed like flies, they should live like flies.’ [Jim, aka James Marais, who i believe is racist]
‘It is time that black people decided whether to return to the iron age, or to embrace the modern times and give thanks to the Europeans for advancing them out of history. I am tired of always having to work so hard to feed freeloaders who only seem to want to make babies they cannot feed. What if we all just stopped working and expected a handout? Everyone would starve.’ [Chris, aka Chris Thompson, who i believe is a racist]
Both of them are white and privileged and seem to be strongly focused on not having to give up any of their hard-earned money to black people, who in their opinion mostly sit around lazily, begging for money grants or expecting others to look after them, and of course making lots of babies.
They say, ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine.’ But sometimes, especially when you are an eternal optimist, you only realise that your pearls have been cast before swine, when you see them crushed to fine powder beneath the feet of pigs.
i think one of the biggest reasons it has been a rough few days of ‘conversation’ is because it seems like these guys are talking about issues that they see or imagine. And i am talking about people. i keep thinking to myself, ‘If only these guys could come and have a meal with me and Nkosi and Fezile and a few other mates, then they’d realise what is really going on here.’ But i don’t know that they would. The words they use seem to indicate a deeply entrenched condition.
And so while i will always keep the door for conversation open, in the hope that those who would genuinely engage, despite how differently they may think from me, will take opportunities to share a meal and wrestle with important, significant and transformative things, i do believe there is also a healthy practice to be had in safeguarding the conversation a little bit more. And in not engaging beyond a certain point.
i think that feels like a wise place to head towards, in the same way that asking for this tattoo wasn’t.