SA : Blog : Choices, choices, choices …

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SA : Blog : Choices, choices, choices …

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-03-07 07:29 ... s-choices/

Choices, choices, choices …

To pick up your son, or not to pick up your son — That is the question,
Whether tis nobler in the mind to let him walk home by himself
And get kidnapped or killed just by chance
Or to take arms with you in your car
And when you're threatened, shoot them. Maybe you die and sleep
But more, by sleep we mean we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That living in SA has become. Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep perchance to dream. Ah, there's the rub
For in that sleep of death what hopes may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause.

I mean no disrespect to the memory of Sheldon Cohen nor to the Bard of
Avon, but to me the most famous quotation from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is
a poignant salute to innocence, and an agonising indictment of the
hypocrisy and immorality to which every South African has become heir.

Apologists right across the spectrum — from Gun-Free South Africa to the
South African Communist Party to SA Good News to the ANC to the mostly
incompetent SAPS and even to the sheeple voters — make a great brouhaha of
the choices we have in South Africa.

We have the choice to stay or leave, says Chunky Charlie; to vote or
abstain, says the IEC; to speak our minds or shut up, say certain
newspapers. It seems that having choices is so important it is enshrined in
the Constitution.

Don't like the radio station? Switch it off. Don't like the newspaper?
Don't buy it. Don't like the service at the shop? Go somewhere else.

Don't like getting shot in your car? Don't pick your son up from soccer

The callous killing of Sheldon Cohen, waiting for his son at soccer
practice, this week highlighted how human life has been allowed to be
discounted to the point of worthlessness in a country where we have so much

Cohen's murder has rightly enraged a nation, but it's been 14 years in the
making. Fourteen years of depleting law enforcement. Fourteen years of
turning a blind eye to crime and incompetence. Fourteen years of letting
standards slide. Fourteen years of dithering, filibustering, cowardice and
lame excuses. Fourteen years of chanting meaningless songs about machine
guns. Fourteen years of telling us everything is nxa. Fourteen years of
corruption and self-enrichment (check the only three decisions Zuma
Simpson's drinking buddies have made in 40 days). Fourteen years of
endangering every one of us by deliberately fragmenting social morality.
Fourteen years of nepotism, cronyism, kakistocracy, idiocracy, arrogance
and good old plain stupidity. Fourteen years of blaming the past and anyone
else who gets in the way.

But don't forget folks, we have choices.

And now as the deadline looms for e-filing of tax returns, we have the same
issue of choices. And Sars, as always, is hellbent on making it as
difficult as electronically possible to register by continuously changing
the goalposts, never answering calls for help and ignoring written requests
for simple assistance. It's symptomatic of the grand national malaise; the
disease of don't-care. Pretty much like dialling 10111 or writing to the
president or ranting in a blog.

Of course, you have the choice not to pay your taxes.

But then catch-22 comes into effect and all your choices are taken away.

We have the choice to drink milk, price collusion or not; to buy bread,
artificial inflation or not; to accept substandard journalism or not; to go
out at night or not; to trust the banks or not; to believe in the good of
people or not; to believe the lights will come on when we hit the switch or
not; to believe we will be treated fairly or not; to trust the policeman at
the roadblock or not. To stay or not. To take the law into our own hands or

We can choose how we respond to events. Yeah, fat lot of good that did
Sheldon Cohen: "Gee, they shot me in the neck. Shame, they must be from a
disadvantaged background. Ah well, looks like I'm going to die. Nkosi
Sikelel' iAfrika …"

It shocked me to the core one day when I came home from work as crime
reporter for the Pretoria News and showed my wife the front page: a huge
story with banner headlines about a botched bank robbery in which three
crooks, a policeman and a bank teller had been killed and three people,
including a child, had been injured. I was so proud of the work I had done
— picture byline, the lot.

But Debbie didn't see that. She saw and felt the tragedy, the suffering,
the sense of loss, the brutal inhumanity of it all.

I was so ashamed, so devastated, so disgusted with myself that I had become
so callous and inured to the suffering I was reporting on. When death and
brutality face you every moment, it is easy to become comfortably numb.

I think about that every time I see one of James Nachtwey's powerful images
or hear embedded journalists reporting from the West Bank or Darfur.

But we're lucky in South Africa, a land alive with possibilities. A
paradise of choices.

Tell that to Sheldon Cohen's family. Tell that to the families of the 18
000 people who will have been murdered by this time next year. Tell that to
the women and children who are raped every 20 seconds. Tell that to the 9
000 people this year who will see no choice but to take their own lives.

It is long overdue that our inept rulers choose to do their job properly or
get out of the way and let others more competent do it. Where we will find
them I don't know, but we're alive with possibilities. And we have the choice.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
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