It is a extreme statement. The optimist within me is screaming, “DON’T SAY THAT!”
But I say it for a reason.
I say it because the events in South Africa have highlighted this fact.
[Disclaimer:This is a cynical, opinionated article. I know. I’m sorry. But we all just need a rant once in awhile.]
What I’ve noticed in the society where I live, is that human behaviour works in trends. People always seem to revert back to the same behaviour, if not enough intervention occurs – and this has been exactly the case for xenophobia in South Africa – it is something that has been a pertinent issue from 2008, and yet again this hatred of foreigners is resurfacing. A part of me feels like it never stopped.
This brings me to another factor influencing how we perceive this issue: the media. So often, we only perceive reality to be what we read in the newspapers – and somehow we sort of just follow the media’s trend to focus on some issues, and we forget about things. I mean, think about whether you know what went down in Crimea? And how there is still conflict in Palestine, even though we don’t see it in the newspapers.
A part of me thinks that something similar has happened with xenophobic attacks in South Africa. If we’re honest, the government didn’t really do much to stop the attacks in 2008. They almost seemed to ‘disappear’ – an the scary thing is that this isn’t what happened; not at all. These stories ‘disappeared’ because the media found something better to report on – there was something else that was a new, sensational story that would sell papers. Be read on websites. Sell advertising space.And now, almost 7 years down the line, we’re back here: a trigger almost seemed to ‘reignite’ this hatred, meanwhile the hatred was there the whole time. It is scary.
This then brings me back to society, and how we react to the issue. If we’re lucky, the horrific pictures, videos and statistics will shock us! How could humans do this to other humans! We protest, pressure government, and it feels like this is the only cause we care about, just for a while.
However, in the majority of cases, this initial uproar fades. It may be because of time, or it may be because another, new, even more horrible issue comes into focus.
And we forget.
That’s if we’re lucky.
If we’re unlucky, the story doesn’t affect us. We read another “just another rape case” or “just another murder”, and we forget that that is someone’s friend; sister; brother; loved one. What happened to empathy?
I suppose here could come another essay on the reasons why we have lost this empathy when hearing these stories, or why we just forget: many blame the constant bombardment of information that we receive. Either way, it will be a complex analysis.
So rather than getting into all of that, I would rather challenge you to be the person that changes how society operates. Don’t just brush off these stories. Don’t just forget. Find something that you’re passionate about, something that fires your soul to TAKE ACTION – and define the new new norm.