Intentions vs Reality: South African Edition

Jul 25, 12 Intentions vs Reality: South African Edition

Posted by in Culture, Featured

Most South Africans grow up without an innate sense of malice. The genuine, intentional urge to do harm to things and people is not normally there. At least, not in my experience with virtually anyone I have interacted with. So why then do so many of us end up doing so much wrong? We grow up learning not to litter, because it will destroy the environment, not to pollute, nor to be selfish, nor unkind nor violent nor disruptive, and yet that’s precisely what we end up doing when we grow up. At some point we reach the stage of remembering not to litter, but forgetting about the lives we harm through our professional actions. As kids we grow up in SA with the wildest dreams of becoming pilots and doctors, marine biologists and actors, the most incredible careers we can imagine, and nary a thought that this might be slightly impossible. Somewhere along the line, perhaps high school, perhaps university, perhaps from the parents, we feel this implicit (or otherwise!) pressure to become something purposeful. Someone who will earn a salary, pay taxes, and generally be a responsible human being. Somewhere along the line caring about what we do begins to matter less than simply doing anything, as long as it checks the financial boxes. In South Africa having any career is a major privilege. When virtually half the country is jobless having any career or job is a blessing, we are told, regardless of the profession. And yet, what kind of moral conscioussness are we breeding as a nationality if this is the mentality? Is anything permissable, as long as you are providing for you and yours? Does that justify the work you do irrespecive of the collateral damage it might create? I think some caution is worthwhile here, even when unemployment is rife and the country is on the border of a catastrophic societal rupture. I’m sure most kids who are lucky enough to go to university, and even luckier to study law, don’t start intending to...

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