My friend Megan just drew my attention to this most excellent article by Max Du Preez titled ‘Let go of the anger’ with a little warning disclaimer that i should not read the comments. [Honestly, why would i do that to myself? And yes now EVERYthing in me wants to read the comments – thankx Megs!]
Do yourself a favour – go read the whole article, and then come back here. i will wait.
Ah good, you’re back.
Max touches on something that i have been thinking about and struggling with for a long time. Obviously there are the Viv’s and Ric’s and whatever he/she is calling themselves this week who don’t get it and won’t get it and aren’t trying to. It is going to take something monumental for many of them to shift. We can’t waste too much of our time on them. But for all those who genuinely love this country and are really honestly wanting to see positive change and really treading water in terms of having any idea of what to do, this is where the conversation needs to continue.
Max said it better than i can:
Too many whites moan about the deterioration of service delivery and about corruption without acknowledging that their quality of life today is higher than two decades ago and that much of the country is still functioning very well. Too many are so caught up in their arrogant cocoons to see that the only real poverty and suffering are among the black majority. Sensitive issues such as affirmative action, black economic empowerment, crime and farm attacks are abused as sjamboks wielded indiscriminately and with great anger.
Just under the surface, is the feeling I mostly get, lies the feeling that “black” equals “incompetent”.
Too many voices from the black community simply focus on white privilege with little attention being paid to how the governments since 1994 have failed to bring about a more just society. Too few articulate what they think should be done to create a society where most citizens feel happy and acknowledged.
It is too simplistic to simply blame the white community in 2015 of perpetuating black poverty after 1994.
The point is that there IS truth in both statements. We get what a lot of the problem is and we need to be more open and free in acknowledging where from our side [and the colour we unwittingly represent] there is a problem. And that the problem we see in the other side is not the only problem, that if solved, would suddenly miraculously turn things around.
It is a both/and scenario and i think people on either side [again, the whole Us vs. Them rearing its ugly head] need to really be able to own up to their proverbial poo.
The anger that we need to let go of, the grievances that we have [which often are completely legitimate as Max mentions above] can forever mist up our eyes and paralyse our actions if we don’t move beyond them.
One place i have observed this has been in conversations with some of my black friends who live in the townships who have no doubt that land restitution is of the highest order, but seem to have little practical idea of how this might be brought about. Which becomes a little frustrating. Even when giving them a carte blanche scenario where they have all the power for a day or a month or whatever it is to bring about the change in relation to land restitution, there doesn’t seem to be a plan as to how it could actually happen.
Is there possibly a way to not let go of the ideal that is land reparation [and continue to meet and wrestle and figure out how we can turn that idea into a practical solution in the best possible way] but get started on some more manageable directly achievable movements?
Is there a way where we step back from complaints about service delivery and corruption [not saying either of those are okay, but just move those issues to the side] and focus on the quality of life we have and question whether there might be any changes we could make now that might be helpful. One example might be if we have someone who cleans our house or looks after our children, to look at what we pay them and assess if it is minimum wage or a living wage?
Can we accept that the government is not pulling its weight in a way that benefits all its citizens, but instead of having that as our main banner call, perhaps shift our view to provincial or even more local forms of government and start lobbying for necessary changes there?
It is time for us to move away from purely ideological and hypothetical and wishful thinking arguments and conversations and get our hands more dirty with the practical solutions that are around us. What might some of those solutions be? Please feel free to share some ideas in the comments section.
[For this post, don’t even waste your time with disparaging racial comments – anything that is not a direct response to this post or a possible solution idea will be instantly deleted]