So…they’re tarring the road that runs past our front gate. Yes: South Africa still has signs of progress. That is the first fact I want to impress upon you. Just down the road from me a stunning estate with a brand new school has opened. So in spite of our focus on that which is going south (no pun intended) in our country, innumerable lights jump up in the darkness. I’m referring to building projects, innovative people doing great things, entrepreneurs living their creative thoughts, charity projects helping the broken hearted.
All of this have not stopped…even though there is a lot of frustration with our leaders and a lot of hate speech doing the rounds, we have much to combat that negativity. Because I believe the only way we can keep on making this country better is to have hope that it CAN get better. And hope is fueled by current truths. So there you have one: progression. And here’s some more.
These workers outside our gate. I do not fear them. I do not simply tolerate them. They have become a happy moment in my day whenever I leave for work (which I still have in this country) or the shops (these seem to keep on jumping up as well). The workers don’t hate me. Their smiles are genuine and their recognition of my car is followed by excited waving. The assistance I get from them is what I love of South Africa. Despite our racial differences we respect each other…because that’s our default. Even amidst students fighting and parliament frankly becoming a joke, there’s a group of South Africans-both blacks and whites-that do their utmost to live the value of civility and respect and love.
A few weeks ago I was late for work and so I entered the road well after the workers started their day. At the moment I wanted to charge down the road, the workers were just getting into wetting the earth and using the TLB (I marvel at how construction workers expertly manoeuvre these huge vehicles). I turned into the road and everything stopped. They stopped everything. For me.
I was disturbing their daily task. I was interfering with their schedule. But they did not hesitate for a second to move all the heavy machinery out of the way…and then they would not let me pass. Not until they smoothed the gravel to make sure my car was not hurt. I know they may have a foreman who would swear at them if they upset the locals. But this group of hard workers looked after me and my car in such a caring way at a time when they could have left me to my own devices or kept me waiting until they were finished.
I messed with their schedule again just a day or two later when I got stuck in some of the soft earth being prepared for tarring. The wise old workers deliberated, got everyone together and lifted my car out of the sand while making sure nothing is damaged, all the while communicating with me, smiling broadly. He could have been brash. I would have understood. They work hard and I’m simply a bother in a hectic day. But they weren’t. They were the most friendly people I came across that day.
Every morning I’m met by these workers(who are doing a very neat job of laying the road by the way). Every morning I’m reminded that South Africa has a choice. I am blessed by a group that chooses to live respect and that gives me hope. I smile back because I love them for turning our road into tar, for doing a good job and for making me feel safe and accepted when all around us everyone is fighting.
These people are what I love about our country. That different types of people can live love and friendliness…even when it’s not necessary. We do it because we can…not because we must. And sometimes we need to be reminded of the power within each of us to influence those around us…with love…not hate.
I know there’s a lot that’s wrong with this country. But not all of it is. Some aspects are so RIGHT. And I will passionately believe that it can outgrow the rest.
Don’t let this goodness die. Please.
Are we going to make our countrymen smile…or cry? You decide.