Et tu…

5 Mar


I usually refrain from making posts about the bad things. It’s not in my nature, and I’m uncomfortable creating arguments based on feelings. I feel something about this city, and I will be the first to admit that I am too emotional in my response to be able to defend myself against topics like crime, blackouts, corrupt government etc., rationally. Cop-out? Perhaps.

This is why I struggle to react to blogs like Why South Africa Sucks. What can I express other than a feeling of revulsion, distaste and anger? How can I defend this country against views that are so foreign to me, despite their attempts at rationalisation?

Someone once asked me to explain how proactive I was being in making this country a better place. This was my attempt at a response. In time maybe, I can get better at this…

I have become engaged in a forum thread discussing the merits of living in or leaving South Africa. My hope is to stay, and raise a family here. But if you’re going to raise a family, you have to try raise them in the environment possible. That is why if things get too much to handle, I will have to face the reality of leaving. I was asked: “You imply your two options are to stay and hope for the best or to give up and live elsewhere. Is there a third option that involves proactive action on your behalf?”

My response was:

“You asked a question that has real gravity… every day I’m absolutely torn, in ways that I’m not sure people understand, about living in this country or leaving. The pain of being here is almost unbearable. Growing up in a family that has taught me to be sensitive to the world and others has meant that I am constantly aware of how fucked up things are here.

Is there a third action I can take that involves proactive action on my behalf. Well, I’ve always been a proactive person. I’m a writer, a journalist, a volunteer. I write about what I know and I do what I can but will that ever be enough? Probably not. The immensity of what we as a country are facing is overwhelming. Do I want to be somewhere safe and secure and perfect, where life is easy and there is no effort involved in ‘being’? No. I’d go crazy. I admire the resilience and determination that South Africans apply to their daily existence. I admire our optimism in the face of the impossible. I will fight this battle to the best of my ability, because to do otherwise would be to negate the battles of our ancestors who fought so hard to end apartheid.

But I am one of few. There are so many greedy people here … You can feel it bleed out from the media, from the government’s propaganda, from the wealthy restaurants and suburbs. This greed will kills us. And I don’t think there is anything I can do about that other than what I know, which is to write what I think is truth, and to be kind, and to keep hoping things will turn out ok. That’s probably not proactive enough but I am not sure what else I can do.

It is very hard to not sound overly dramatic, which I’m sure I do. But part of my daily existence is the very real acknowledgment of violent crime, poverty, unequal distribution of power and resources, fear, paranoia, racism and prejudice, HIV/AIDS crippling us, anger and sadness – to be surrounded by these things all the time is very very hard. Especially for someone as sensitive as me. And I’m not sure what to do about that.

I don’t think I answered your question. And that’s because I don’t know myself. And I’m not sure if I ever will.”

And that, is about as honest as I can be right now.


4 Responses to “Et tu…”

  1. Lesley March 5, 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    Good for you, Jax. I was going to vote for the Naked Editor blog, but now I’ll just have to vote for you …

  2. amatthews March 5, 2008 at 8:32 pm #

    Your question is a very pertinent one. I just went onto the blog you were referring to and I was sickened by what I saw. It is implicitly racist and wholeheartedly negative.
    Of course SA faces challenges, but that doesn’t justify writing it off. The type of people who revel in our problems as some sort of sick vindication of their racist predictions shouldn’t be living in SA.
    But to answer your question, I’m not sure if a response is even necessary. It would only give the “Why South Africa Sucks” mob credibility that they don’t deserve.
    Best of luck with the voting!

  3. jax March 6, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    It’s scary isn’t it?
    What I find interesting, as a journalist, is their pathological rationalisation of their cause… it reminds me of the good old days when implementation of eugenics theory was being bandied about.

    I’m certainly not going to be dragged into an argument with them over the semantics and practicalities of their racist beliefs, but I read through some of their stuff and I am deeply saddened by the knowledge that people like this exist: and how damaging their thoughts (and the effort they put into them) are to our future. It’s very disheartening.

  4. Shonz March 7, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    Jax, I love your thoughts… I always have. I wish there were more ppl that thought this way. I think it would make a huge difference. keep on it, Jax!

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