We are all pilgrims on this pilgrimage called "life."
One quote that got me thinking this week is this, "One of the most destructive things that's happening in the modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together - which can lead to nightmares of social collapse" written by Alexander McCall Smith, one of the world's most prolific and best-loved authors. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the UK and Africa before turning his hand to writing fiction. He has gained the most fame for hisNo. 1 Ladies Detective Agencyseries, featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe. That cool detective comedy set in Botswana.
So many of us are scattered around the globe, far from our families, our friends and our support groups. We think nothing of relocating without even a second look over our shoulder. When I hear people telling me about their plans to immigrate, I cringe with real sorrow. Even though I love everything about adventuring and trying out different places, I do not believe that uprooting and leaving everything behind is a good idea at all, for anyone.
Cultural differences create huge gaps in the social fabric, with many people now disconnected from each other, the rich in their gated communities in the sky and the poor youth sitting around the townships smoking weed. As our tight society has gradually thinned out, it is the elderly who pay the price. People don't visit as much as they used to. We know each other less and less.
The recent socio-economic trend, and the new mood in politics, is misunderstood as hostility to outsiders, it is so easily purloined by racists. Rather, it is a cry for community, for togetherness, for the local, for mutuality, for social solidarity.
In recent years, the world has gotten better, life more interesting and rich, but change takes its toll and new challenges to our social solidarity have emerged.
All the while, the strong social ties which once held communities together have been eroded, as people have moved away from towns and neighbourhoods occupied by generations of their family before them, and the traditional industries around which these communities were organised have declined.
Now, as we grapple with the effects of rising inequality, automation and economic insecurity, many South Africans feel abandoned to a broken future devoid of both economic and social capital. Moreover, the rise of gated communities and the decline of common civic institutions (such as the organised church, community social clubs and political parties) means that many of us simply have no idea how the other half lives.
Social divisions sap the trust right out of our communities - increasing anxiety, prejudice and the fear of crime, restricting social mobility and augmenting the sense that there is more which divides than that which binds us together. The result is a self-perpetuating cycle of fragmentation, which fuels feelings of difference and dislocation and makes it all too easy for people to pin the challenges facing our country.
This Freedom Day let's stand togetherunited in our communities, societies and neighbourhoods. Lets stand together for our personal freedoms, peace and equality for all!
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