This morning, South Africa woke up in a strange daze. Reaction to President Ramaphosa’s announcement last night has been met by equal parts fear, praise and anger. A large majority of our population still believe, incorrectly, that the virus will not target them.
This is not some allusion to people refusing to self-isolate, but to the damning rumor spreading among our population that the virus will only infect certain demographics.
Shame on you.
What is worse, if that is possible, is that for the past week where government sanctioned clamp-downs on mass gatherings had already been in effect, churches and pastors have refused to believe that they need anything beyond the favor of their God. I hope you are right, but understand that the hell of your beliefs will be tepid against the fire of your conscience if you are wrong.
We stand to lose so much.
There is something as South African’s that we have to understand: the haves need to protect the have-nots. Almost everyone in the nation who has cupboards full of groceries and reams of toilet paper will lose nothing but time and money in this exercise. Yes, we are afraid, but that stopped being an excuse for stupidity a long time ago. As I have spoken about before, you are the arbiter of your actions, and perhaps now more than ever, need to exercise the most stringent self-discipline to maintain your own, internal self-respect. Those of us with our internet and cupboards of unread books will walk away from this with a story worth telling. Let it end there. Let it be nothing more than an interesting story for future generations. Make it a brief moment in time when we showed back-bone in the face of adversity.
We stand to lose so much.
I am really allergic to the word if. It is a stupid word; a two-letter assumption without a spine and meaning. If has caused so much damage throughout history, has been the justification for so much miserable human behavior, that I would be happy to see it wiped off the face of the world like it has other things. If we don’t drop the bomb they will. If we don’t buy guns they will. If we run out of food, we won’t be able to get more. The list of damaging sentences lead by the word if are legion and will continue to be.
But this once, just this once, if has its place among in the lexicon of noble actions. If we do not do this, and do not do this properly, millions stand to suffer. That sentence has little meaning to anyone anymore. Millions in sweatshops suffer everyday for our spending habits. Millions choke on plastic and toxic fumes. Millions are underpaid, overworked and tired.
But pay attention to them now. In the next few months, if we don’t do this correctly, watch the news. Understand your role in the suffering of millions.
For in this moment in time if has a different meaning, and that is the word will.