Do Something…

Whenever I catch up with an old friend or ex-colleague, the first few exchanges are always about how “hectic” life is. “I’m so busy…no time for this…oh, no haven’t had time for that in ages…ja, that’s how life is nowadays.”

But what is it we’re so busy doing?


I’ve been paying closer attention of late to what people say they’re busy with and without being disrespectful… it’s ORDINARY. In fact, in relation to the hype, emotion, drama and time allocated to many of our everyday activities, there’s a case to be made for our collective insanity. With all that there is to address and transform in the world, all too often our focus as individuals and as a society is on the ridiculously mundane.


I recently sat in a presentation done by a very passionate Palestinian youth calling for support for his compatriots in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, and for an end to the oppression in his country. What struck me was how a boy so young could be so articulate, well read and so very confident. I was reminded of my own youth during Apartheid South Africa. The rage, the hope and the dreams we fed off, urged us forward. Like this Palestinian youth, we were clear that we had a cause greater than ourselves. We were the generation that would end Apartheid and bring in a new era.  Whether you led the rallies and got arrested or just toi-toid from the back, whether you made public speeches or quietly painted banners, whether you new Nkosi Sikelele or only hummed along…if you were from our side of the tracks, you were a freedom fighter! There were times when it was terrifying and times when it was just the sweetest, most thrilling thing to be on the edge of something new and RIGHT.

In my daily interaction with youth nowadays, I’m often left with the impression that being born into a free country has deprived them of  the inclination to strive, to serve, to belong to a cause greater than themselves. In a free world, it is ME that is important. My likes, My wants, My preferences become the focus of My life. And an entire life can pass with that single focus.

But we’re not living in a free world.


There are only a few parts of the world where freedom is enjoyed. And it is up to those of us who enjoy those freedoms, to strive to empower those who don’t.  Mostly we’re too busy seeking personal satisfaction to set aside time to care. Ironically, spiritual leaders, life coaches and leading psychologists today recommend contribution to others as a sure access to the greatest thrill in life. The ultimate satisfaction of human being is not in being self serving but in serving others. Of course I’m not advocating that we all become monks who sell our Ferrari’s! We don’t have to abandon life as we know it to make the kind of difference that makes a difference. But it would be interesting to start to pay attention to what our attention is generally on everyday. The life of Me…or the difference I can make to others?


So today’s blog is dedicated to social activism. This may not change the world, but it is intended to raise awareness, shift our focus, elicit ACTION.

Scroll down to the SocialVibe button on the bottom right, click it and support my Cause. It’s a really small action to take in a day full of me-business, but it’s a difference making action: everytime you press the button, you urge big sponsors to make micro donations to the project of choice. The SocialVibe project supported by Creative Introspection, is DO SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING challenges young people to become people of action. It provides them with the tools to transform their own energy, ingenuity and innovative thinking into meaningful action in the world. I found it most appropriate as the purpose of this blog-site is to engage in reflection, then take creative action and encourage YOU to reflect, challenge and take action too. Our commitments and affiliations may be to different causes, but we can only realise any of them through taking action.

Press the button. Become people who DO SOMETHING today that will bring about a change.


Making my mark…taking on the world

17 Years down the line, is the “New” South Africa already giving up on Democracy?

I remember the exhiliration, the joy, the PRIDE with which South Africans queued to vote in 1994. Many of us do. It was a euphoric, historic day that marked the transformation of South Africa, the liberation of it’s people and the possibility of the celebration of diversity despite the ghastly past. I remember how we boasted about the time spent lining up to make our mark, evidence of our new found national pride. Desmond Tutu writes about that day as being “like falling in love- everything was brighter”.

Barriers were broken as people shared sandwiches, umbrellas and water in those queues. There was not only this new neighbourliness, there was also laughter, excitement, suspense…and there was the promise of a bright and inpiring future.

Not a promise made by government, mind. What lingered in the air, in the smiles, in the hearts of the people was their promise to live into that future fulfilled;  their promise to participate where they were not allowed to participate before; their promise to use their voice.

But a sombre atmosphere pervaded the voting stations today. Aside from the music blaring from party kiosks where sweets and balloons were dispensed, voters themselves were sombre.

I was sombre.

My spirits were dampened by the apathy I’m present to. In the conversations I have had with family and friends over the past few weeks, I have got present to the disempowering impact of resignation and cynicism. It spreads. People share complaints with such generosity, you’d swear it was charity. A group of friends or colleagues start a conversation inspired by newspaper headlines or the daily cartoon. Heads nod, mouths turn down in bitterness, even more heads shake and shoulders stoop. Pretty soon there’s a smell of disgust in the air.  The group disperses heavier than when they met. More committed to their cynicism. Less inclined to effect change.

Party politics aside, I am unhappy with government in South Africa. There are serious issues: corruption, unemployment, service delivery…yes, the list is rather long. But I do not understand the value of a complaint that is not taken to the people who can actually deal with that. How else will I get the complaint resolved? Or is there a greater a commitment to the complaint than to the solution?

I understand that everyone doesn’t want to change the world. That’s what I get a lot: “You can’t change the world, you know!”

But who says? Who says that we can’t change the world?

We do. When we aren’t willing to do what it takes to make the necessary difference. When we accept that we’ll always have complaints cause “that’s life”. When we say it doesn’t matter whether we vote or not. We say, “We can’t change the world.”

I often wonder what made men like Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Salahdin Ayubi, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela- what made them great? Were they really just extraordinary? Some of my students suggest that they lived in “troubled times that required heroes. ” I can’t help believing that they were people like us. What distinguished them was their willingness to put their life on the line, to give up their complaints about how the world wasn’t as it should be and to make the difference themselves!

If not your mark on the ballot, what are YOU willing to put on the line?