A non-racist SA depends on the extinction of the middle to older generations- US!
The older testament tells of how the Jewish people who were meant to receive the word of God from God, committed the mortal sin of worshipping false Gods while waiting for Moses to return down the mountain. For that sin, God left them in the desert to die for 40 years only letting the new generation, the untainted into Israel, the land he had promised to them.
For South Africa to be a non-racist country, we will need my generation, and possibly two successive ones to die, and to die quickly if we are to save this country from becoming severely and irredeemably racist. I recently interviewed Mienke Steytler from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) on the diabolical state of racism in this country. (The podcast of that interview can be found by liking the “Contemporary Business” Facebook page and searching for our discussion).
What Mienke and I agreed on was that under the age of 16, irrespective of the negative and racist influence of parents and older generations, our children remain basically, race-blind and untainted. In-fact a recent poll shows them collectively to be aggravated and angered by the hoo-ha of race when they have other priorities, most of which remain within their integrated and non-racist worlds. Indeed statistically that almost neutral coefficient is far more positive than it would be as a comparison for the entire population of the USA and certainly of the entire population of the European Union.
The promise for South Africa is that our raw human material are not naturally inclined to want to be racist. That is an almost miraculous reality in itself. Again I reiterate that is despite both the unconscious and conscious efforts of their parents and older families and friends to engender their racist tendencies.
Unfortunately though, there is a human inclination towards racism whether conscious or not.
At some time in a person’s development the human being tends to move towards their own and unavoidably to begin to see differences between gender, races, cultures and nationalities. This is not avoidable and is absolutely pervasive. The issue is not whether we all have an inclination towards racism but whether we have the tools to manage that inclination so that it does not become debilitating. So that it does not become destructive and so that it does not interfere in our functioning in a society characterized by more differences between people than by similarities?
While it is not possible to have a truly integrated society because of differences, it is possible to have one society with different groups in it, complemented by those differences, which constitute it as a complete society.
Such a complete society has then the ability to implement rules and methods of living, working and surviving together which are generally acceptable to all and constitute meaningful boundaries. This becomes what the IRR refers to as a “Policy Framework”.
Undoubtedly though, race is still a very persuasive tool in this country upon the back of which young wannabee politicians are easily able to make their mark. Take the “Rhodes and Poo” incident at UCT. What began as one man’s seeming protest, turned out to be his sound-byte to becoming a fully-fledged representative and future EFF member of parliament. We can foresee many more such incidents as South Africa is strewn with symbols, statues and names from the past, and with the younf and entitled who do not see hard work as an option in their futures.
The real question will be what level of discernment is evidenced when those who want to stoke racial hatred for their own nefarious purposes run out of “Apartheid” excuses and are left with the Brandt Pretorius’s, the Helen Susman’s, the Ronnie Kasral’s and the myriad other White heroes of the struggle. Will their efforts to fight for change be sufficient to spare them the poo, from a generation which do not know these names, which need a target and who have not paid attention to the stories of their teachers or parents for whom they have no time or respect anyway?
What ultimately must the message be to our children? How can we instill in them a sense of identity around the differences which makes them who they are, in such a way that while retaining that identity as White or Black, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, they still identify as an African with this country and this continent and with ethnic Africans? Is such a mission even possible?
The alternative is not to interfere. To let the younger generation struggle, together and to sort the issue of race out for themselves. To make the hard choices based on their current realities rather than on our sordid past. For us, the older generation to choose to remain in the desert and let them work out between themselves the formula to enter Gods chosen land based on merit, not the colour of their skin or on their gender.
Or are we as a collective people too far gone. Has our South African “Archetype” been so tainted by race that morality and fairness are irredeemable?