We did it – now what?
With the euphoria of our magnificent Rugby World Cup victory in Japan beginning to level off, we are beginning to change our focus and ask some powerful questions: How can we sustain the unity that #RWC2019 created? How can we maintain the heightened levels of hope and positivity? How can we continue to live out the mantra of #strongertogether?
These are the right questions because as jubilant as we are, there is a limit to how far sport can take us before we as citizens must step in, grab the baton and continue leading the charge.
How do we “bottle” the World Cup gees?
In order to “bottle” the positive effects of the World Cup victory, we first need to clearly name what they were. Two things stand out: Hope and unity. Now, the exciting thing about these two affects is that it is easily within our ability as individual human beings, as families, communities and organisations, to not only sustain but create them. Both are, in the first instance, decisions that we take to allow hope and unity to become our dominant narrative and pattern of behaviour.
Creating hope and unity
So, the event of the Springboks winning the World Cup did not of itself create unity and hope. We allowed unity and hope to rise in us as a response to their victory. Sure, we had turbo-boosters – a massive national surge of endorphins and serotonin and all the other feel-good hormones that promote positive, happy feelings and behaviour. But interestingly, we then translated those intense happy feelings into words and deeds of hope and unity. And by the way, this started way before the final.
We needed this
Now, an already hopeful, united nation say, Denmark, would not have had these affects triggered in the same way had they won the World Cup. They might not have felt the victory so intensely, and if they had, they might have allowed other affects to be triggered – affects that they needed at that time as a nation. But we needed hope and unity so as a result, we allowed those to be triggered in us.
Creating hope and unity: A 2-step process
Sustaining hope and unity is seemingly as simple as a two-step process: First we must decide to be hopeful and united with all humanity. Having made the decision to be hopeful and united, we decide to act on it. Here are two actions you might take for each:
- Surround yourself with positive, hopeful people
- Speak (and forward, like etc) only positive and hopeful words
- Be intentional about greeting people and perhaps smiling at them
- Spend time getting to know people who don’t look, sound or think like you
I am sure that as a family or community you could come up with loads more actions. But if all we do is these few simple things, our country will ride the wave of victory for many years to come.
Whether you like the #imstaying campaign or not, it is doing a significant job of giving a section of the population a much-needed shot in the arm. Given the vast numbers of people lending their voice to the movement (650 000 and counting), there is a huge opportunity for a phase 2 called something like #imstaying #impartofthesolution.
To inspire us and hopefully get things started, here are 4 short stories from my own life of people who have been part of the solution. There is an entrepreneur, an Organisational Development specialist, a mother and a group of passionate S’affers now living abroad. All 4 have one thing in common; they have used what was in their hearts and hands to be part of the solution.
Mam Khanyi – Home of Hope (www.hopehome.org.za)
Nearly 20 years ago, an import/export entrepreneur noticed 4 girl children standing near the robots near her Johannesburg apartment. She asked a man who these children were and was horrified when he told her they were prostitutes. She invited them into her apartment for tea and after being told that they were forced to deal drugs and sell their bodies on behalf of pimps and drug lords, she stormed off to find said men and gave them a dressing down they will never forget. Those 4 girls were rescued and nearly 2 decades later Mam Khanyi has cared for over 10 000 girl children all of whom had been trafficked and sold for sex.
Dr Louise van Rhyn – Partners for Possibility (www.pfp4sa.org)
Nearly 10 years ago, an Organisational Development specialist was profoundly moved by the Dinokeng Scenarios (www.dinokengscenarios.co.za). Dr Louise van Rhyn responded to a scenario inviting us to work together to build the nation, by starting a program called Partners for Possibility. The program partners school Principals of marginalised schools, with ordinary citizens from the non-educational working world in a co-learning, facilitated 1-year leadership development program. Since then over 1000 schools and hundreds of thousands of children nationwide have been positively impacted by the power of this globally recognised program.
Eunice Khumalo – the uMlazi Baby Home (www.peaceagency.org.za)
“Auntie Eunice” has cared for abandoned and orphaned babies all her life. Just this week, she got the keys to a house in uMlazi, South of Durban. From this home, she will now run her own Baby Home and will work together with the local community to care for babies, drive down infant abandonment and provide necessary support to vulnerable girls and women who are unable to care for their babies.
Lana & David Stephenson and Barry and Katherine Corden
These passionate South Africans now living abroad are leveraging their networks and social media skills to raise the funds necessary for Auntie Eunice to open and run the uMLazi Baby Home.
For each one of these 4 stories there are tens of thousands of others; stories of ordinary South Africans using their talents, passions and contacts to be part of the solution in South Africa.
A recipe for being part of the solution:
What are you best at? What do you love doing? What is easy and satisfying for you? Add these things to what gets your blood boiling and you have a perfect recipe. At some point these people – all ordinary South Africans like you and I – used this recipe and are now in their sweet-spot, making a difference and being part of the solution.
I invite you to give this recipe a bash so that you too can say #impartofthesolution.
In her latest column in City Press entitled “There is Hope for SA”, Professor Thuli Madonsela gives us a host of reasons why we should be hopeful. She cites her recent Social Justice Summit in which a broad community of powerful stakeholders ratified her social justice M-Plan and where proverbial lions lay down with lambs: Former President FW de Klerk and Professor Ben Turok agreed on the catastrophic legacy of apartheid; Helen Zille and Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib shared a vision for our country; students from Rhodes and Fort Hare held constitutional dialogue sessions with no hint of the vitriol we see in our politics. We have come so far and yet our South African narrative is so massively skewed towards the negative.
Living with hope
The piece that is missing from Prof Thuli Madonsela’s powerful exhortation, only we can scribe. And the question we must consider is this: How do we wish to live our lives in SA? With hope or without it? Madonsela has clearly decided how she is going to live: Hopeful and actively involved (of course these are two sides of the same coin). But how do we – whilst not ignoring the many deep challenges and often ghastly horrors of day-to-day life in our country – do the same? We know that to live with hope whatever the circumstances is the only way to lead a happy and productive life. Yet amidst the relentless noise of bad (often fake) news and the constant resulting barrage of negativity, it can be so hard to find flickers of hope. To cope, many of us settle for cynicism. It’s a way to survive. But I invite you to consider this:
Taking the high road
There are two roads in this country. You might imagine them as a flyover suspended above a highway. The flyover is used by scores of people each day; good people who are busily making this country work. They are hard-working; they don’t do corruption; they don’t spread lies, fake news or negativity; they have integrity and are passionate about seeing our country succeed. They are school principals, policemen and women, businessfolk, politicians, parents, domestic workers, engineers, NGO workers, advocates, judges, religious leaders, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, taxi drivers, admin clerks, labourers, entrepreneurs. They ensure that the single story that South Africa is failing, is a false narrative.
Then there are the ones on the low road. The media has much to say about them. Contrary to News24, braai-talk and social media, my lived experience of our country is that this is the quieter road.
Madonsela’s implicit challenge is this: Which road do you and I want to travel on? This is a choice that only we can make, knowing that if we choose to join the high road it will take work and a constant commitment to fanning the flames of hope into being, for a better future for SA.
South Africa wont fail
But it will be worth it, because here’s some exciting news that most serious thinkers locally and abroad know but that gets very little airtime: Africa is rising – it is the next big thing. And South Africa is not going to fail.
Join me on the high road.
This column is proudly sponsored by Partners for Possibility
If you would like to find out more about Partners for Possibility visit www.pfp4sa.org
If we replaced the words used to describe our faith i.e. Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/Atheist etc, with the words “Whole-makers” – I think it would have a profound impact on the world.
This is not a new idea; disciples, scholars and mystics of all faith traditions have pointed us to the fact that our work here on earth is to unify; to make whole; to embody oneness. I like these terms because they denote action; they don’t describe who we are by what we believe but by what we do and how we live.
For those of us who are non-religious (or trying hard to be non-religious) I think we could probably buy into this notion of “Whole-making” far easier than religion. Imagine the conversation:
Me: Hello, my name is Justin
New friend: Hello Justin, what religion are you?
Me: Oh, I am not a religion as such, I am just trying to be a Whole-maker like Jesus was.
New friend: How wonderful! I am also trying to be a Whole-maker like the Buddha was. Let’s make whole together.
New friends exit together as one.
As I get older, I find it increasingly difficult not to turn and look the other way.
I find it harder and harder to bear witness to the suffering of people and creatures and our planet: The decimation of forests, the poaching of endangered animals, the neglect and abuse of babies, the lack of education of our children, the ravages of extreme poverty and the rank unfairness of excessive inequality. I used to be able to look at all this and it used to enrage me to the point where I would act.
But recently I have found myself less and less able to keep my eyes
open. I have found myself turning away. In fact, I think this could be a very
neat description of privilege: The option to turn away.
At times like this I need a good dose of Pink Floyd. They remind me that turning away is no way to live. This is a Momentary Lapse of Reason. This is the Dark Side of the Moon. They remind me that turning away can never be an option.
Be reminded too – and enjoy! Watch the video here
On the Turning Away – Pink Floyd
On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won’t understand
“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away”
It’s a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it’s shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It’s not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
No more turning away?
I have always believed that one must vote.
But an insightful piece by journalist Ranjeni Munusamy before the elections questioned this hitherto unquestionable logic and I must say – as I saw how many voters chose to spoil ballots or simply stay away – I now question it too.
Choosing to withhold or spoil your vote, is also a democratic choice. Whilst it won’t assist in putting a politician into a seat in parliament, it does send a message that you are gatvol and no party deserves your vote. This year 235,449 people spoilt their vote. Well over 9 million people registered to vote but abstained. This is massive. People are clearly tiring of a system that does the same thing every few years, but for them doesn’t produce the promised change . Surely, we are entering a “post-democracy” era?
I have also heard it said that if you don’t vote you have no right to complain. Well, this is absurd. Firstly, everyone has a right to complain if they will. But more importantly, if you aren’t going to vote surely you should do something else to contribute to change? I am not a big fan of complaining but if you can’t vote, get involved in other ways. Write letters to your local press explaining why you chose not to vote. Get hold of your local ward councillor and demand accountability for specific needs within your community. Resolve to tackle racism in yourself and others. Get active in your local community: Start a community dialogue in which you discuss how to help your local school to perform better. Join your community block watch. Fix something that’s broken. Pick up litter. This is all doable regardless of who you are and what your situation is.
I did vote and I was excited to exercise that right. But as
far as political choices were concerned, I was deeply conflicted. Had I been true
to myself I wouldn’t have voted.
The truth is that to vote, withhold or spoil our vote is the end of our role as citizens of a democracy, unless we are prepared to participate for change beyond the ballot box. We can no longer delegate the running of our lives and our country to politicians and bureaucrats. This dance is up, and it didn’t work particularly well in the first place.
We must show up as active citizens every day between
elections and contribute in ways that build our people and our country.
Then we will watch our country rise.