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Faith in my fellow man

Sep 12 2012 07:00 *Adriaan Bester

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AT THE risk of sounding like the tear-jerk Volkswagen TV commercial, I too have been wondering about where home is – and where I belong. 

For a long time, I've imagined being surrounded by a tribe of "Earth warriors" who, like the 12-year-old inner boy scout personality I harbour, stare with shock at the impact we have on the world we occupy. I am calmly taking stock.

I place my disillusion on a scale where, on the one end, a lady casually tosses her burning cigarette butt from her car window on a hot and windy Cape Town spring afternoon.

On the other tip, a near-hysterical salmon-fasting population that (threatens to) boycott a respected retailer for its efforts to undo the unjust past in certain segments of its employment.

Somewhere in the middle of the scale, a couple of hectares into the valley of egotism, I get lost in the woods of isolation, and stop to ask for directions.

If you need to pause to ponder the existence of modern men asking for directions, do so now.

On both sides of tosser and boycotter, my scale is lined with speedsters, non-public transport users, electricity abusers, sms-typing drivers, tik heads, textbook burners, anti-Cape Town Stadium protestors, corrupt officials and a gallery of nouveaux riche activists who protest for none of the aforementioned.

And big SUVs driving in bus lanes.

The list is actually much longer, but I have to limit myself.

My point is, the scale does not exist universally; the age of a collective big brother that thinks on behalf of me and my breed has lapsed; the tarred brush used to paint a picture of what I'm allowed to express publically has been dipped in honey.

The consequence of it all is too big for some to express. (And I know now I feature prominently on somebody else's scale too.)

Yet the task of balancing the scale resides squarely on my shoulders. To get me there, I fill my tank with faith in my fellow citizen.

I cheer every South African Paralympian crossing the line, whether first or last; I patiently complete customer satisfaction surveys with annoying proactive call centre agents that never get my first name quite right; I drink locally brewed beer (sometimes more than needed); I eat a spinach pie from the village market.

And I do so without expecting a boulevard or pedestrian bridge being named after me or my tax number.

If the economy does better, and my fellow countrymen participate better in it, I do better.

These are the days of citizenry that fill the void until I figure out how the next chapter of my existence will bring value and meaning to those that will read the memoirs I hide deep inside my imaginary vault.

I too have dreams of belonging, and of being a unique palette filler of the rainbow children that raise the hairs on sceptics' arms and necks.

But beyond the thrill of a fake Castle Beer-type commercial moment, I desire the rise of a nation that steps together, in tiny tentative paces if needed, towards a place of dignity.

My failure to moderate exhausts me. The fatigue could also be from waking up from the annual slumber of winter passing.

I try hard to leave only tiny urban traces while enjoying my time here, and must now work even harder to not be stampeded by those who don't apply the same scale of priorities.

 - Fin24

* Searching for moderation, but often fuelled by heated conversations, Adriaan feeds his mind on Twitter as @aiBester – while he co-ponders a @FutureCapeTown







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