Remember to show kindness and compassion, everyone needs it!

Posted on 5th Aug 2020

By William Bird, MMA Director

It’s been a more than usually bizarre period. In the third week of July we had the Portfolio Committee on Communications behaving like thugs, demanding the SABC Board answer them and then denying the SABC Board the opportunity to answer them. Research came out showing we have more unemployed people than those with jobs, women (surprise) bare the brunt of poverty and most adverse impact of Covid-19, and 47% of families went to bed hungry in April 2020. 

Then President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the SIU would be investigating corruption in relation to Covid-19 corruption. His speech, while well delivered, was seemingly met with a combination of resignation and derision – little wonder given that bigwigs are seemingly never arrested for any wrongdoing.

In the same period, the interest rates were cut, more media announced retrenchments, more scandals and wrongdoing was exposed, ominous warnings of Gauteng’s water infrastructure were issued, the Eastern Cape continued to make the news for hideous work conditions, crumbling infrastructure and corruption. Added to this we have seemingly conflicting lockdown regulations that say it’s fine to travel packed like sardines in a taxi, but you can’t visit your friends and family. 

In this mess, the number of Covid-19 cases went up dramatically, leaving South Africa at the time of writing, with the fifth highest number of cases in the world. It’s important to reflect on these events, not because they are disinformation, but precisely because they give a tiny slice of how stressful, challenging, fractured, bizarre, desperate, appalling and massively difficult things are.

On top of all these issues, we have our regular stresses of inequality, racism, gender-based violence, hunger, child abuse, oh yes and of course, climate change – which if we don’t act on, we will all die. In this context, not only is it just about impossible to keep a clear sense of what’s going on, but it is also nearly impossible not to be emotional and stressed – which means this is happy time for the mis and disinformers.

Still here? Good you haven’t chosen to opt out and sit in a corner rocking gently. No need really, because for all the huge difficulties we face, there are stories of heroism, of good deeds, of generosity, of ingenuity, of resilience, of genius, of struggle, of kindness and of compassion. If things were as bad as they seem, half our country would be dead and there would literally be no lights or water, or government, or plans. That this isn’t the case speaks to the values I just mentioned.

To all those who have experienced loss in these times, the women who carry our nation forward with close to no food or resources, the healthcare workers who work under the most appalling conditions in clinics and hospitals in the Eastern Cape, and elsewhere, the civil servants who work 20-hour days to force grinding wheels to turn, the security forces who do act to protect and serve, the journalists and media who carry on telling stories despite the risk and the threats, the NGOS who keep going with less and less, and the donors who keep finding resources. All these things not only give us hope, they ensure us and those who work on our Real411 system can double their efforts – especially the volunteer professionals who give their time to Real411 to keep fighting those who seek to make things even harder and destroy all we have built. So remember to show kindness and compassion, everyone needs it, and help fight disinformation by reporting dodgy stuff to Real411.