You’re probably reading this title thinking you’re about to get a festival of complaining about all the public facilities that just don’t function.
We could go with that but how many more times can you stomach reading about how fewer public hospitals are being run properly and how the teachers aren’t pitching to teach the kids.
No! Today we’re going to question how feasible it is to do things for ourselves.
When one has a nice medical aid, one need not worry about access to a public hospital. Cool eh? It may sound all elitist in the context until you think of it this way; when one has a nice medical aid, the state has less need to concern themselves with one’s access to health care.
The state can, therefore, focus on other people who require the state’s assistance.
It’s just one example but the reasoning is sound; the more people who can take care of their own rights, the more resources the state has to take care of those who can’t.
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Problem is, if the state is doing such a shoddy job of it now, what happens when municipalities increase the cost of water? What happens when inflation drives up food costs? What results from the increased petrol and paraffin prices?
Short answer is that it sucks. Long answer requires some more consideration.
It’s epically odd, that as a nation, we’ve latched on to this narrative that our rights can only be realised by the state. Perhaps it’s because with some many people having so little and the only recourse they receive tends to come through the state.
Few people want to ask the tough questions about how to realise peoples’ rights in a manner that empowers them to do it themselves. It’s far easier to look to the government and yell, “No! You do it!”
But really, how much can you expect from the state? What’s more, at the risk of sounding elitist, how much can the state really even do?
Sure, they can spend money and dish out pills, electricity, water, schools and food here and there but have you noticed how much more expensive those things are getting? Petrol up, food pricier and the cost of education is ridiculous…so some who once could comfortably afford those things on their own, now struggle. Some can’t even afford them anymore.
In turn, the state now has to care for more people.
And yes, we could be cynical and raise questions about whether the government wants its people dependant on them so as to woo them electorally.
Maybe there is an element of truth there but it’s not the point. The point is that there’s no need for the state to give us the things in the bill of rights if we can get them ourselves yet very little is done empower people to do things for themselves.
Strange for a place where the buzzword seems to be “empowerment”…”or is it “leadership”? Perhaps it’s both. It doesn’t matter seeing as nobody knows what they really mean.
I’ll resist the temptation to raise the old adage of teaching a man to fish…because it’s sexist…so let’s just go with this; Give a homeless person a sandwich, they’ll still need a home…but give a homeless person the access to a shelter with a co-working space, fast internet, business lessons and access to a market and in a few years they’d have more of a shot of buying their own home and it won’t be some shoddy RDP job.
Sure it’s the long game. Yes it may seem more expensive. Do it en mass and you’ll soon learn that you’re not taking just those people out of the cycle of decency but also probably the generations that follow.
At this juncture, it’s less of a question of implementation, at least for now. This is a matter of changing perspective.
We need to stop being cool with sucking the powder from government’s teat with no water to mix it in. We need to start saying that we want to have our own cows.
Richard Anthony Chemaly. Entertainment attorney, radio broadcaster and lecturer of communication ethics.