Reflecting — concerned for the future. We need to step up.
The year is 2020. The start of a new decade and a year that we will indeed remember for the rest of our lives.
To be precise, I am writing this on the eve of Youth Day in South Africa. Youth Day, 16 June, commemorates the Soweto uprising of 1976. An uprising and protest in response to multiple issues with the Bantu Education Act and the government edict in 1974 that Afrikaans would be used as medium of instruction for certain subjects in black schools. The iconic picture of Hector Pieterson, shot by the police, brought home to many people within and outside of South Africa the effect of the struggle during the Apartheid government’s reign. To this day, this photo carries a stark reminder of the oppression of Apartheid.
A global pandemic has, and continues to shake the world. It has exposed a broken system that is deeply interconnected and requires us all to review the way we were operating to change for the better. Current events have also exposed the deep-seated roots of inequality and discrimination that marginalised groups have been living with and through.
Why now? What has changed? What is different?
Is it perhaps because we have had more time to think through things? More time to process what is going on? More time to observe the physical boundaries that exist between the “haves” and the “have nots”? It’s a question that I have not been able to answer, it is astounding that we have allowed discrimination to continue through the years…remaining unchallenged it has deepened its roots at all levels of society.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [humans] to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke
As I sat down to write this, my thoughts drifted to historic and life changing events over the last hundred years. From natural disasters, to wars, political elections, trade agreements, human atrocities, sporting masterclasses, and most recently the global pandemic.
When we live in a world where everything is moving so quickly around you, you can easily drift into a state of overwhelm. A constant state of doing, where you are not asking enough questions to justify your actions and not thinking through things at a deeper level. It’s a tricky space to be in and an even trickier one to navigate out of, because the default is to try to do more as one ‘attempts’ to keep up. A perpetual cycle that is self-enhancing because we have not given enough of our attention to driving change.
Invisible insulation — words from Seth Godin that powerfully describe the inequality we have created. The fragility in which the world currently finds itself in has been created through years of processes that have broken down human connections. Establishing insulation, separation and promoting superiority for selected groups.
I am deeply concerned about our future. The most powerful inequalities are often those that we cannot see, ones that we assume (incorrectly so) are behind us without fully understanding the deepness in which their legacy continues to influence current society. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is one thing, but wearing them for a considerable length of time is another. Do we truly understand inequality or do we only experience it in glimpses?
Writing is a way to distil thoughts that are zooming around in our heads — compartmentalising the madness into a narrative, so that we can begin to process it all. The reality is that we must act, we cannot stand by and let things continue to damage our humanity. Our future depends on it.
The world needs change.
An enormous task as we work to enable inclusion and diversity. Diversity is after all how we survive as a species — you can reference the biological world to see how important diversity is.
Albert Einstein once said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”
We need to step up, through crisis and hardship we have been presented with an opportunity to build a better world. It’s our (your) turn to contribute and to help build a better world. So, start — have difficult conversations, challenge yourself to embrace diversity, listen and learn from others, and foster human connections. If we don’t I am extremely concerned for the future of the world we live in.