Shortly after midnight on 12/13 August 1961, the first barbed wire and bricks of what would become the Berlin Wall were laid down. My reminder of “this day in history” made me think of the devastation caused by civil wars and internal conflict. There are many examples throughout history – from the American Civil War to the Middle Eastern crisis – and if there is one thing they all have in common, is that there are no real winners.
You don’t have to be a history expert to know this. Every day, we see the devastation caused by internal conflict – whether it is in families, companies or countries. While competition and opposition keep rulers and leaders in line, violence and conflict are often the result of people feeling that they are without options or instigation as a result of irresponsible political agendas. South Africa’s volatile political history has taught us all about this. And if we forgot, there is nothing like a pandemic to show the cracks in our rainbow armour.
The Covid-19 world health crisis reminds us of the importance of working together and the value of community. There is so much shared ground when it comes to what we all want for our country and our children. But how it practically plays out, is a whole other matter. Who would have thought that something that affects us all, that should actually show us how much we have in common and how much we need each other, would rather lead to aggravated corruption and looting. “When it seems as if virtually every tender awarded during the time of a global health emergency is tainted with corruption, it says something about the very soul of a country”, write Judith February and Gary Pienaar in an opinion piece for ewn.co.za. (Read more)
We all understand the dream for financial sustainability. We need people to have jobs, to be self-sufficient. We can applaud creative plans and innovation – even when born from a crisis. Those with financial resources can stimulate the economy and create employment. However, when the desire for personal riches becomes irresponsible and without regard for the bigger picture, it can endanger a country’s economic health and political stability. Zimbabwe is a clichéd but prime example.
In an interview with News24, Whitey Basson says: “The Covid-19 pandemic is just an extension of changes we have to experience. There have been World Wars and pandemics in the past. I am more worried about the situation in SA, where the coronavirus graph seems to be flattening, but the corruption graph seems to be going up at a fast pace. I see no recovery in that regard – no graph to show how many crooks are still out there.”
What we need, more than anything, are “old-fashioned” values: honesty, responsibility, dedication, work ethic. I find nothing wrong with the dream of living a good life, but when values are absent, the desire to find personal wealth can easily lead to corruption. Corruption inevitably leads to conflict and in the end – no one wins.