I have battled to write recently. This is odd because I usually have a great deal to say.
But I have been struggling with what a dear friend and colleague calls “the black dog” of depression. For those of you who suffer from depression, you will know that it is damn nigh impossible to create from within the bowels of the beast.
Dr Louise Van Rhyn, founder of Partners for Possibility, talks about there being 4 possible responses to the challenges we face in our nation. She says you can get depressed, you can get angry, you can leave (well, some of us can) or you can get up and do something. My choice since returning from the UK in 2007 has been to do something. My contribution has been to persistently challenge the prevailing narratives and to explore possibilities rather than problems. In short, I have tried to tell a different story about our country.
But then sometimes the black dog outruns me. He outruns all of us from time-to-time. We get negative and even depressed. This can be clinical. It can also be situational. I think many South Africans are suffering from situational depression right now. Zuma has been taken out and nothing material has changed. We are on a major Ramaphoria come-down and it isn’t pretty.
But I don’t wish to get angry and as a family, we have closed the backdoor for good. Leaving is unimaginable for us and not an option. I do not wish to be depressed so the only thing left is to get more involved.
My involvement today is simply to say this. We are better off than we were 1 year, 10 years and 20 years ago. I am not making this up – the data proves it. So, please don’t leave; don’t get angry and try not to get depressed. And if you want to get involved and you don’t know how, then consider this invitation:
What if the future we want for South Africa is in our hands?Each one of us holds infinite possibility in our heads and hearts. This possibility is our “true self” – the self that sees possibility all around us. We are laden with possibility; with potential; with gifts that our world desperately needs. And yet we get trapped in thinking: “I’m not enough; I don’t have the time, the money, the talent etc”. This is simply not our true self speaking.
Join myself and Dr Rama Naidu and begin a journey of discovery of the unique gifts that you have that our country urgently needs
Date: 18 September
Time: 8:30 for 9:00 until 13:00 (lunch will be served)
Venue: TBC but in Durban
RSVP to Thandiwe no later than 10 September 2018 via email firstname.lastname@example.org
This monthly feature is our response to the President’s invitation: “Thuma Mina – Send Me”. It is a toolkit of ideas to help our readers respond to that call.
In 2007, I returned from the UK having spent 6 incredible years living and working in London. Virtually as my plane touched down naysayers began questioning my decision: Why on earth had I come back? Hadn’t I heard that we were “going the way of Zimbabwe”?
I had all this buzzing around in my head when – out on a Comrades training run up near the Kruger National Park – I greeted an old man carrying wood on his head. His reaction changed my life forever and set me on a brand new path.
He stopped dead in his tracks (as did I, which isn’t difficult when I am running) and stared at me like I was nuts. I wondered fleetingly if I had offended him, but my fears were soon allayed as a huge, craggy smile broke out on his old face. We smiled warmly and greeted one another and in that moment a bridge was built between two very different human beings; one old; one privileged; one white; one rural. It was a bridge that I knew in my spirit was strong and permanent; it was a moment when I knew beyond all doubt that love was the beginning and end of all faith; the beginning and end of all life and purpose and the true meaning of truth, reconciliation and healing. My experience with that old man stood in stark contrast to the naysayers who had been so negative on my return. To the two of us, South Africa was indeed alive with possibility.
This experience birthed a campaign called Stop Crime Say Hello. The thinking is that peace creation is an active process that we must all participate in daily with simple acts of kindness and bridge building. By doing this we slowly begin to chip away at the culture of violence that has been put in place over decades of disrespect for one another.
As a call to action, Thuma Mina is so simple. It can and perhaps must begin with small actions repeated often; actions such as greeting people – especially those who are different to us – as we go about our daily lives.
I guess the hardest part is slowing down for long enough to really see humanity in all its wondrous complexity and beauty and brokenness all around us. Because healing doesn’t happen in a hurry and bridges take time to build.
The call is to do something – however small – to make a difference in one life at a time.
I would love to dialogue with you around the call of Thuma Mina – Send me. You can contact me on email@example.com. (www.peaceagency.org.za)