Koos Kombuis

How to spend Youth Day

2012-06-12 10:11
With Youth Day around the corner, it is perhaps time to take stock of where we are, and where we are going.
Thinking about the past and the present, and playing the blame card, or playing the indignant-liberal-card for that matter, is all too tempting; all too easy.

Thinking about the youth forces one to think of the future. When one thinks of the future, it simply doesn't work to play the blame game. There is no time for that; the future is approaching like a runaway freight train. The issues that were small issues yesterday have grown into larger ones now, and unless these issues are dealt with, they will be monumentally big issues tomorrow, and they  will swamp us with their urgency and their sheer magnitude.

Protest is becoming more and more ineffective, and complaining only draws existing battlelines clearer. Polarising different cultural groups into separate hostile factions is simply no longer an option.

Never before has this been brought home more forcefully to me than when I watched Carte Blanche on Sunday and heard about the R20m new paediatrics centre contributed to Durban's decaying and run-down King Edward VIII hospital by BHP Billiton and Carte Blanche. This, and other forms of new infrastructure, are apparently now being built at different hospitals with funds coming from the private sector.

Because of this kind of initiative, high quality service and medical care, which had been unavailable before, will be given to numerous children and their struggling parents.

What astonished me most of all is that I have seen just about nothing about these ventures in the media, and had to do an internet search to find out more about these admirable projects.

Good news is no news, so it seems. Is that why these marvellous events, this hope-giving illustration of what South Africans can achieve once they actually stop blaming one another and start working together, has not been headline news yet? Are our media more interested in mud-slinging than in publishing encouraging news?

I find it wonderful and fascinating that an actuality programme such as Carte Blanche, a programme that has spent the last number of years sitting on the sidelines of South Africa pointing out corruption and criticising inept government officials, now finally have rolled up their sleeves, gotten their hands dirty, and given something back.

In their own words: "We said 'Let's stop finding fault and let's see if we can fix it', and that is what we have done."

I read these and other comments by the Carte Blanche team on IOL, and fell in love with a phrase uttered by George Mazarakis, a phrase which I promptly quoted on Twitter, receiving quite a response.

"Anything is possible if we stop wasting time."

Now, pinch me if you want, but this makes me think of the words of another famous South African public figure from way back when, President Jan Brand of the Orange Free State, who, back in the nineteenth century, uttered the now well-known sentence: "Alles sal regkom as elkeen sy plig doen." (Everything will work out if everyone does their duty.)

Simply that. No highfaluting, idealistic grand schemes for job creation, no left-wing or right-wing rhetoric, no beating around the bush. Just this.

Let's do it right. Let's work together. Let's get stuff done, now.

We should take heart from this, and follow the example of Carte Blanche. And this simple sentence by George Mazarakis should become our new motto, our lodestar, our declaration of intent.

Let's spend this Youth Day, just this one day, NOT complaining about anything, and wondering what we can do to make a difference to the future of our country. If we can't do it for ourselves, then, at least, let's do it for our children.

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