Monday, 26 November 2012

Here's what's wrong with SA

Advance warning: this post is a ranting one.

Around 80% of the time, I'm a glass-half-full-of-awesome-sauce about South Africa. I love our country, it's beautiful, it's fill with amazing people who are poised to do astounding things. But then, for that other 20% of the time, I really do have to sit back and wonder.

So. Picture the scene. Saturday. A room full of cancer patients are waiting for their radiation treatments, that they've had to go for on a Saturday because the radiation facility's equipment was broken on Thursday and Friday - both days on which they kept the patients waiting for their dose of hope for six hours and more, without very much information or care.

Back to Saturday. There's a beverage station in the waiting room. Nice. Only every single cup is dirty, and the ones that were clean have been dirtied by what is obviously a spill - so the cups that were rim-down on the tray, are all dirty too. There's no milk. The water cooler is empty.

I asked one of the ladies if there's a dishwasher (meaning a machine) that can be loaded so that the people waiting for treatment (and the people waiting with them) can have something to drink out of a clean cup.

"No," she says. " There are only two of us here today, and there's no maid to wash the dishes."

That, on top of a very interesting and pretty hardcore day at the Daily Maverick's Gathering 2.0 on Friday, brought it home.

People just don't care. They don't care enough to do the little things that could ease someone's day - so why should they begin to care about the big things? How are we going to get anywhere, if we don't start taking care of the small details - simple caring actions that will make someone smile, give someone hope, change someone's perceptions about a stereotype?

Well, all I could do at the time was wash dishes. So I did. I washed the cups and saucers, dried them, cleaned the tray, and loaded the milk jug. All in the time it took for one five minute radiation treatment. Not exactly hard labour, and not exactly time consuming.

Next time someone asks you for a (metaphorical) clean cup - what are you going to do?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

One Month of Gratitude - join me?

Last year, every day in November, I put a post up on Facebook about something that I was grateful for, at the suggestion of Melanie Minnaar. I blogged the results here, if you want to go back and have a look, but I've decided to do it again this year.

 As South Africans, we tend to navel-gaze a lot, we tend to scream off in anger or terror or consternation (or a combination of all three, and more) at the slightest thing. To be fair, we do live in a pretty hardcore society (and we - you and me, in our leafy suburbs are insulated from the worst of it). It's not surprising that we react so dramatically to the bad - because there's a lot of it around.

There's also truckloads of good stuff around though - and I think we forget to stop and ponder it, give it a hug, and tell people about it.

Last year's postings had a pretty profound effect on me. I was angry about a few things, and I was rushing around from one panic station to the next, obsessing on details that turned out to be not very relevant at all. December dawned, and I felt lighter, happier, and I smiled more - at my family and friends, and at total strangers too.

So. Here's my challenge: join me in making November a month where you stop for two minutes each day, and think about the things that you're grateful for. You can blog them, Facebook them, tweet them or write them down an old-fashioned notebook, using a writing stick. Or, just think about them over your morning cup of coffee.

But do it every day, just for 30 days.

And tell me how you feel about life afterwards...