By Derryn Campbell
South Africa – a world in one country Or a country in two worlds
For many years South Africa has been promoted as a world in one country. Beaches, mountains, desserts, casinos, wildlife, shopping, we even now have snow ski resorts. How blessed we are to have it all.
But the converse is just as true – A country in two worlds. The tremendous division between our first and third world economy, the disparity between our schools and the differentiation of the lifestyles of our people creates a divide which is worlds apart.
Quick to Complain
This divide is the underlying cause of our problems resulting in protest actions, crime, unemployment, attitudes of entitlement and even racial tensions. And we as South Africans, myself included, are quick to complain, just as quick to blame, yet perhaps not so quick to take responsibility.
We pay more for a take away meal than the amount we pay the tea lady for a full day’s work - then complain when she is lazy.
We drive past a hungry street child on a corner because giving him money encourages his lifestyle but get angry when he steals your bag.
We read of the millions of people dying of AIDS but don’t question what becomes of the orphans left behind.
We surround our homes with high walls, electric fences and alarms and then wonder why it was necessary for the robber to use a firearm.
For entertainment each day we watch movies with violence, drugs and promiscuity but sit around the dinner table with friends trying to fathom out what is happening to the youth of today.
We teach our children not to talk to strangers, treat the less fortunate with distrust and then wonder why they show no respect.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if, for one day a month, every month, you woke up in someone else’s world, wore their shoes for the day and looked at life from their perspective. What would you see, how would you feel and would you live your life differently if you knew that next month you may be that person for a day.
What would happen if we each took responsibility for our situation?
If we looked each stranger in the eye and gave him a smile.
If we took 10 minutes a day to find out about the home life of an employee.
If we identified a skill of our own (yes everybody has something to give) and then chose one person to teach it to.
If we volunteered one day a month in an orphanage.
If we encouraged our children to invite a new, less fortunate friend home.
The truth is we only have control over our own actions but it is these little actions which will close the gap between the two worlds.
This needs to be done by making people feel purposeful, empowered, respected and worthy.
After all, what do we have to lose!
By Derryn Campbell