I have friends and acquaintances who sadly have been victims of violent crime and on occasion have expressed their negative views of life in South Africa as well as hinted at the possibility of emigration.
It is not my friends’ posts themselves that intrigue me, but the comments that his posts inspire. I do understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion and I can sympathise with victims of any type of crime or violence. The negative comments and vitriol that such posts inspire do get a bit overwhelming.
Now, the emigration debate is not so much of a debate as it is a national pastime. I do not know of any other country in which the ‘should I stay or should I go’ conundrum sparks such fierce emotion on both sides.
I have friends and family who have made the choice to leave and have been happy doing so.
I have friends and family who have chosen to leave and regretted that choice.
I have friends and family who have made the choice to stay and I have friends and family who perhaps stay because they have no choice.
As a mom who wants only the best for my children, I have spent many hours tossing the options back and forth and this is what I think….
We are each entitled to believe that going or staying is the right thing to do.
If we do what we believe is the right thing, for the right reasons (I do not believe fear is the right reason) then we have made the best decision for ourselves.
If we make a choice due to fear, uncertainty or peer pressure (from those who have made a different choice to ours) then we are simply allowing ourselves to be bullied, and this decision is bound to be filled with regrets.
Personally, I believe that I was born South African for a reason. I am the first to admit honestly that our country at the best of times behaves like a rebellious young adult. Whether we are loving or hating, we are a passionate people. Just like a rebellious young adult, after years of living in a restrictive and controlling environment, we are trying to establish our own identity.
I have been witness to the very best and the very worst of what humanity has to offer and for the moment, I choose to stay.
I liked my children attending traditional schools, where respect, manners, integrity and sportsmanship were just as important as academic achievement. I like that they were schooled alongside children who came from all walks of life – some living in informal settlements while others resided in golf estate mansions. This is the reality of our South Africa and prepared them for this real world contrast.
I appreciate that I am able to teach my children life lessons like tolerance and compassion by using the examples that present themselves to us every day. The lives of those less fortunate, make us grateful for what we have.
I love that my children have friends who are black, coloured and white and that are Christian, Jewish and Muslim. I hope that this means that this next generation will understand one another better.
I am grateful that, at this point, my country is not a priority target for religious extremists. Some things, you can not protect yourself against.
Every morning, I look at the beautiful mountains that surround us, and know that I live in one of the worlds most scenic places. There have been times that this beauty has been my saving grace.
While bugs, snakes and other creepy crawlies are not my favourite things, I know that there are a myriad of amazing creatures living just a short distance away. I love that my children get to experience African nature and wildlife at its best on a regular basis. This means they will love it too and want their own children to see it one day.
Finally, the people I love and care about most live in South Africa. I believe in the power of people, and my ‘people’, my family and friends, are here. I want my children to know their grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins. I want them to feel connected. This means they will one day value family as much as I do.
I am trying my best to encourage tolerance and compassion in my kids. I think it is something that is in short supply everywhere.
We, as a community cannot rely on our governments to fix our town, city, community or country. That is not their job. It is ours…. And if those of us who can, don’t, then who will?
Image: “Only in Africa” – a single cow crosses the N2 highway near Cape Town Airport Credit: Lesley Scott