Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief

I remember a time when we all watched ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ and later ‘Dallas’ and then still later: ‘Dynasty’. This would be the talk of the town, with who killed JR Ewing being the most burning question on everyone’s lips. And, in its peculiar way, these television series (or “shows” as they were fondly referred to then) were a catalyst for conversation and even a bond for many to talk about something in common – at least for those who could afford a television. But even if you didn’t own one, neighbours would come together to watch these “shows” together. I guess we lived out the word Ubuntu more during those times.

Now we are inundated with so many series – one can’t keep up! And downloaders cannot wait to share the latest (season 7 of this, and season 20 of that and season umpteen of the other). And Hollywood is churning them out like there is no tomorrow. Supply, demand and saturation…

I also remember a time when the smaller the cell phone, the better – and the more hip – you were! Nowadays it looks as though some people need a television license for those ginormous gadgets. For nowadays the cell phone is no longer just a phone – it is a one-stop entertainment-cum-status-cum-communication device that only needs to learn how to produce food and fetch your slippers and it might become the perfect companion. And people fall for these hook, line and sinker. No questions asked. No reflection – in the name of progress? I have my doubts…I always maintained choice is not always a good thing.    

But, far it for me to talk about things I remember that actually made sense, and still kept a semblance of humaneness about us. These days we are dealing with the strangest phenomena: things like Xenophobia. Eish! A word nobody knew about until just the other day. A word some still can’t spell and that a few old people still confuse with schizophrenia! And I know what a travesty it is, but I guess it is better than civil war. People are angry. And I hear many older white folk who generously benefited from the Apartheid regime (in ways unimaginable) on radio talking about racism and how “we all need to work together” to eradicate it; that it “has no place in our democracy”. Funny how that was not the sentiment when ‘Dallas’ was hot on everyone’s lips around the water cooler – that may or may not have been reserved for whites. Now that it affects the white person in a negative way (“My son can’t get a job. It is reverse racism,” I hear on radio often), we all of a sardine (sic) need to “eradicate” it?

My two cents: I always try to liken most of what we feel as human beings to our individual situations. What you are like as a human being and how you react to things really does determine so much of outcomes, and impact heavily on future relationships.

Someone sent me an interesting chain mail – peculiar, for, the words “interesting” and “chain mail” should ideally not be in the same sentence. Another big Eish, along with load shedding (double Eish!), “Send this e-mail to ten people you know or you will die before dawn!” Do I even know ten people? And if I did, would I want to bore them (or clog their inboxes) with my “pearls of someone else’s so-called wisdom”? I usually just hit the delete button. However, there are two or three people that I trust enough to have sent me something that they thought would be worth my while to read. The religious freaks I usually avoid. They are a pestilent gall.

The long and the short: the email relates a story about what we have control over. An accident is by its nature something we may not have much control over. After it has happened, there is only reaction that matters. Reaction is always in our control. An angry person will react angrily, will in all likelihood not solve the problem and possibly cause a series of negative actions to follow that one angry reaction to the accident. A person who stays calm during the same incident might have solved the problem at hand and may have caused a series of positive reactions to follow.

And, as idealistic and naïve as I may come off, imagine a world of such calm, positive reactions; a world where there is enough (and there is) for all to share; where the rich folk (or any other for that matter) do not just care about themselves, and where people do not only look out for their own interests, and only speak out when things affect them negatively?

Are we seriously going to allow what is happening to our world just to happen, and sit by merrily, saying: “I say NO to Xenophobia”, thinking that that contribution is going to change things? I suppose just like the folk who for years and years prior to 1994 said NO to Apartheid?