Let’s build on our diversity

Johan van Zyl,
Gordon’s Bay

In this country of ours with its tragic past and current equally tragic, unsettled political present there looms the possibility of a problematic 2018.

How wisely we go into this new year and beyond will determine how soon a better life can be provided for all.

The noises now being made by new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa are encouraging, and I found myself actually appreciating his Christmas message delivered on television.

To what extent this is going to be followed by sound political leadership remains to be seen.

A lot of opinions have been heard concerning the myth-like notion called equality.

The inequality of the past must be overturned, it is said, and the playing field made level for all. Put all the people in the same cooking-pot and stir well. For the sake of equality.

In the zeal following the 1994 elections and the forming of a new government, this was translated into affirmative action, in which the principle of taking from the rich and giving to the poor was soon replaced by the equally disastrous weakening of the strong so that the weak can be strengthened.

In a bizarre way the spectre of inequality was kept alive by a government proclaiming to do exactly the opposite.

But ironically, the motto “Unity through Diversity” which
appears on our country’s coat of
arms seems to place accent on the diversity of our peoples as a worthwhile given.

To my mind it asserts that diversity is not something plague-like which needs to be eradicated.

The motto seems to say that unity should be strived for by building on the existing diversity of our peoples.

Looking out from my front door, I find myself surrounded by diversity in all forms.

Age-wise, I am one of quite a few seniors on my street, but most are younger.

My neighbours vary greatly in terms of religious denomination. In terms of wisdom, I have what I have through God’s grace alone.

A few neighbours
are not white like
me, but this is not
one of the ingredients of diversity in my way of thinking.

Certainly we are equals under the skin, and before the law, and before God.

So, barring these established equalities, and looking wider than my own street, I find I am not quite the equal of anyone.

Analysing further, I find I have a special appreciation of those who are more equal than I.

Jokes aside, readers should note that I am not suggesting I am superior to some. Let those who have reason to look up to me feel free to do so.

But I myself admire all those who have enriched me with their greater intelligence and finer moral attitudes towards life.

It is those to whom I have looked up and learned from during my years of adolescence, academic training and career paths.

Without them I could not have come to where I am.

We all have our superiors surrounding us. They are those whose shoulders we need to stand on to
see further along life’s path.

They are our role-models, irrespective of race, those who are able to guide us when we need to be shown the way.

These are the leaders we need to identify to take us into 2018 and beyond.

That’s why I want to foster the notion of our diversity.

Let us revel in our diversity.

Importantly,
let us respect one another: respect
those who look up
to you, because
it is your God-given privilege; respect
those soulmates
whom you find
on the same
playing field as
yourself, because it is your pleasure; and respect and acknowledge your superiors, because you need them.