God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Desperation meets incompetence

xeno
Picture: copyright: Spotlight Jesuit Institute South Africa

“Mr President how should we react ? What about you ? In just over 48 hours a boxing champ shot dead , a UCT student raped and killed , a child kidnapped from school , stores in Malvern & Jeppe looted and burned , 607 Patients at Baragwanath wait up to 9 months for an MRI scan.”

This twitter from Ashraf Garda yesterday describes the situation and questions most South Africans have in our days – while a new dawn was promised and people started to believe it, the reality kicks in that a new dawn also needs new people. Moving forward and having the incompetence, the corruption, the ideology of yesterday as part of the deal will never work as also Zimbabwe shows in an very intense way.
But South Africa would not be South Africa if there is not a twist to the story: While some journalists paint a bleak picture for the foreign press and undermine tourism which counts as one of the most important income sector of the country the truth is that tourists are very seldom even get in touch with all the murder, violence and lack of service delivery. It seems that two movies are playing out for the time being and only those who paint with broad strokes are not able to see it. And contribute to the downfall of society even more as jobs are lost.

Keeping people in work and creating new jobs, bolstering the tax base, strengthening the service delivery record of government on all spheres are the fundamental requirements if this country is destined not to fallen prey to despair and chaos. Creating more and more situations where role models and success stories counter the hopelessness and despair of the ordinary people is needed. And of course government must play its part: Shelving the madness of an NHI , stopping to run behind a socialistic tainted ideology which has been proven to fail a long time ago, retiring with honor all those whose only credential are struggle stories from the past, putting whatever money is left in infrastructure, education and health and last but not least partner with reliable NGO’s and civil society organization to turn the tide. I know this is a lot asked in our situation where it seems that the corrupt political elite’s ethic filters down to the streets of our major cities.

And it will only work if the president of this country – instead of traveling the world and talking nicely – shows leadership, stops the cabal of the Zupta fractions in it’s track, reassures the nation not with talk but the right action in showing that honesty, hard work and dedication to the well-being of society are at the forefront of public service. Healing also starts when justice is served, as slow as it may be in a democracy – but those implicated at the Zondo commission must have their day in court so that people see that indeed everybody is equal in front of the law.

Desperation of the poor meets the incompetence of many in government, incapacitated by a strong ideology – the good news is: this is not a physical law but a status to be overcome by using common sense and the yearning of most people in this country for a better future for all. It’s possible or as a Nike advertising states: Just do it! And please: don’t blame foreigners for your own sins and lack of action and planing…

 

Filed under: Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greta and the voice of the church

Listening to the debates about the now famous Greta – all the questions asked and criticism voiced, praises sung – I certainly have formed my own opinion but what really get me thoughtful is a complete other question I am asking myself: The hype around a topic which the Roman Catholic Church has on her agenda since ages – 1.2 billion faithful of this denomination were not able to make it a headline worldwide over decades. Why? Since ages the church is looking into the question of environment and protection of the creation.

Is it because of the social media possibilities alone? The means in our days to put your energy and dreams in tweets, Instagram, Facebook and other means of internet communication – triggering so the worldwide hype? Even if the real consequences of such a hype is still questionable – in Germany the amount of people flying is increasing despite protesting on a Friday for the future – the question remains: Why were 1.2 billion Catholics not able to bring a topic to the forefront?

Or is it that most Catholics did not care – that all the information, booklets, declaration of bishops and popes have no real voice anymore – maybe heard, but immediately put aside as impractical or far away from reality?

Or was it too prophetic – too early to really catch the eye of the public and those in charge of society and politics?

Whatever it is – I find it amazing how little impact a billion strong community has on essential questions of human mankind in our lifetime – and it seems to me so different from the old times where church was minting questions and values in a way, which lingers even today almost genetically in people. I sense changes we still not have realized with all the consequences for our institutions, for our life and that of our societies.

There is more to reflect …  signs of the times…

Filed under: Catholic Church, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , ,

The insanity of becoming a president

insanitySouth Africa produced in the moment many headlines showing how much this country needs healing and a stable political and social framework to come back from a state captured on so many levels.
And people and NGO’s do their very best to assist in all possible ways to achieve this stability and bridge the gaps left by government. People in the field can vouch how hard it has become to raise funds inside and outside South Africa doing this work on a daily base. One is met with skepticism and clear judgement that South Africa have had its chance and gambled it away through corruption, incompetence and entitlement.

On this background it is almost incomprehensible that a party, claiming to be the liberators of the people spend millions or more to pay, bribe, convince by financial means members to vote for a certain party leader. While millions are unemployed, millions live on state grants, infrastructure is missing or crumbling, healing is not happening and society is split more and more again by racism and wealth those called to remedy the situation are invested in spending money on internal fights.

It is simply perversion at its best but it also shows that some politicians count on the fact that the majority of un- or less educated voters simply will either not even read those revelations or ignore them as long as they get their t-shirt and food parcel at the times of elections.
It is simply insane that NGO’s have to beg for some Rands in South Africa while often BBBEE enriched politicians and so-called business people play with big money just for gain of power and might.

Add this to state capture and the seemingly continued free reign of corrupt and compromised leaders within parties one can understand the frustration of sponsors and donors not willing to further support South Africa. Working in the field it needs a lot of hope continuing to work in a country which tries very hard to proof, that it can’t make it.

Against all the mentioned odds – I still believe that South Africa has enough potential to change tune – born either out of hope or desperation – sometimes not sure myself…

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Contrast bath of emotions

  Is it possible to love and hate, to praise and condemn a country within hours with feelings running deeply both ways almost at the same time?
Well, South Africa is such a country which somehow has made it a local sports to elicit the different emotions like a roller-coaster. Murder, military in townships, cash heists, robberies and the inability of politics to really serve the people, paired by a constant flow of information from the Zondo commission can lead to deep depression – the shamelessness of people like the public protector or the flip-flopping Julius Malema adds to the urge to pack up and go, writing off this once so promising country of 1994. Constant use of race as a weapon and apartheid as an excuse for incompetence or outright corruption are cherries on top of the frustration.

On the other hand I just was invited to the cultural evening of the Brooklyn Holy Cross Primary School. The students took us around the world with song and dance, they shared their dreams and watching them and their enthusiasm has exactly the opposite effect of depression: energized we all walked out – knowing that we have to support this generation of kids and youngster to have a chance in the new South Africa. Similar meeting the kids in Blikkiesdorp, Manenberg and other forgotten areas – their smiles in spite of hardship, their efforts while living in broken families, their willingness to learn and to let go – not to forget the many moms fighting to have a better future for their kids – those are the reasons to stay and to work hard so that the next generation can build on what we realistically can achieve in our lifetime.

It is in the so called poor areas, in the townships, at the bottom of society where you encounter all the reasons to stay while the shameless selfishness of most politicians, the ignorance of those “who made it” through all sorts of means using their elbows right and left and those who murder and steal without regret try very hard to push the last decency out of this country.

We need a revolution of healing in this country, a revolution which only can come if we recognize that is is up to us  – with our emotions, in our pain and hurt and with our hopes – to recognize the contrast bath of emotions, to persevere and to come out more strong, more determined to make a difference.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Some reflections on racism

Traveling the world and especially the USA one can’t escape the question of racism, let alone coming from South Africa were the question of race seems to be connected to all questions of life and seemingly influencing every decision made in this country.
I guess we all agree that there is only one human race and that the differentiation into human races was and is a political and social tool to suppress or discriminate or even dehumanize people of certain skin colors – or in our days especially in South Africa, hold them accountable for past or present discrimination.
Not seeing this is in itself racist – and even if it is tempting to claim for oneself to not seeing the colour of a person – it somehow denies people of colour the inherited history and emotions attached to their lives till today.
Racism is part of what we are born into – it is what theologian would call original sin or structural sin; for example: As a white European person – I am born into a world with certain privileges – I inherit certain implicitness without being guilty of anything. But I have to deal with it – and in a time of social media, of constant exposure of racist incidents it seems to be one of the Sisyphusian task of our generation.

But how do you address it? How do you address the discrimination of generations of people, of whole societies, of whole groups within a country, of a whole continent – how do you remedy the disadvantages and horrible consequences for the lives of whole generations?

Unfortunately you actually can’t make it good again – you can only try to compensate the living but it has to be done in a way not creating new hardships and injustices. And it sounds like squaring the circle. For it to happen I guess the following must be in place:

* The ability and willingness to recognize and to acknowledge the past and the present problem of “racism” and its consequences
* To recognize the “racist” in me
* To recognize that the marginalized group must find back the freedom and pride to be – I am sure the black conscience theory of Steve Biko can be of great help
* To listen to each other in really hearing the stories of each other – to try to walk in the shoes of each other for a while to understand without discussion and debate – just hearing what is said and feeling the pain, the desperation, the hope and the aspiration
* To find common ground in redressing the injustices without creating hardship and obvious new injustices
* To find forgiveness, because the burden of the past, which never should be forgotten, can only be accepted if and when forgiveness is given and accepted on all sides
* To give your all into the efforts of walking together, being patient with each other but determined to overcome and learn out of the past

Only on this base we can strive to overcome the past and to create a future which accepts a non-racist society where new words, a new language is expression of a new sibling-like relationship where indeed skin colour does not predetermine your place in society.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

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