Louise Brits: Ordinary citizens can make all the difference

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 03: A University of Cape Town student addresses the crowd during the #FeesMustFall protest on October 03, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. Speaking during a #FeesMustFall imbizo, President Jacob Zuma had earlier pleaded with the Department of Higher Education and university students to find long-lasting solutions to the fee increment issues that have brought academic programmes across the country to a halt. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld /Jaco Marais)

I wondered what to call this article, this message. Do I name it Active Citizenship? Leadership? Taking ownership and responsibility? Or is it all of these things?

This I know: we give too much of our power away. Our authentic power, our birth right. The right to think for ourselves, to do for ourselves, to be a community and also do for others and with others. Perhaps we don’t know that we already have this power, don’t know how to live in the power already bestowed on us. Perhaps it’s easier to wait for someone, anyone to save us. So we remain hopeless, frustrated, in darkness and we feel our only option is a violent route. Perhaps our motives are darker.

If you don’t know that you already have the power, scientists tell us that it will take us 32 million years to count the possible connections one brain can make. There are not 32 million connections; it will take us 32 million years to COUNT them. Our minds are brilliant. We have meta-cognition: we can change our thoughts while our minds are thinking them, and stop them, and replace them with another thought. Can we think up a better future? Create something new? Yes, we can. And it works exponentially when we co-create in community and collaboration.

If you want to challenge my thinking, you are most welcome. We are statistically not programmed to agree if we have these many connections in our brains. I’ve based my view on Nancy Kline’s work on Thinking Environments (www.timetothink.com).

So, how do I start? I have seen how people have taken their power back. Here are some suggestions:

Step 1 – Decide to no longer wait. Act. Start something, anything. Start where you are, doing what you can, with what you have. Start perhaps with becoming an active citizen: http://citizens.za.com/index2.php.
Step 2 – Stop complaining and blaming. This does not create a better future for you, or anyone else.
Step 3 – Start positive conversations with others about your dreams. You’ll find you’re not alone. And you’ll find others who can share your journey and perhaps journey with you on the way.
Step 4 – Ignite your own children and other young ones with their possibility. Be a positive role model and impart hope and dreams and passion.

Before you judge me, I do not write this from a privileged (“white”) background. I have witnessed with my own eyes how ordinary people – some would label them as “disadvantaged” – have done this FOR THEMSELVES with great success, in some of the most impoverished areas of our country. If we think it is not possible for them, we place them in a perpetual state of infancy and victimhood, always requiring our brilliance and charity to get by in life.

What future do I see in our fabulous country beyond #FMF?

I see ordinary, everyday citizens volunteering more at schools. Reading programmes, helping with homework, offering extra-curricular activities like music, sport, chess, art, dance, fashion, etcetera.

I see organisations getting involved and hosting career days – careers that don’t require degrees but perhaps latent talent like those mentioned above.

I see successful entrepreneurs mentoring youth from the age of 16 to start their own businesses. Give them small loans as start-up capital and coach them through their business cycles. If each of them employs one other person we start impacting unemployment.

I see people like me running skills and empowerment workshops at schools to switch our children’s minds from despair and captivity and #FMF into a bright future filled with their possibility (Leave me a comment if you want to know more).

I see more social cohesion and less fear.

I see “’n Boer maak ‘n plan” everywhere, even if they are not “Boere” (farmers).

We are much more powerful than we realise. And it’s our honour, our privilege, to do it for ourselves and in our own way, the way that has meaning for us, which inspires us.

Perhaps this way is through a degree for some. Perhaps not. The future of economic growth and employment in our country lies with entrepreneurs and possibility. Our soil is rife with possibility. We don’t always need degrees to till possibility and produce a harvest.

We ARE the leaders we are waiting for.

Photo: Jaco Marais

1 thought on “Louise Brits: Ordinary citizens can make all the difference

  1. I read with interest your article. The globe has become over populated for the existing structures that exist, governments of countries are no longer in control with no solutions. The so called constitutions that have been written by various governments are meaningless and only used in defending bad behaviour ” my right”. What the reality is that we are facing is ruling by the masses, do we actually start to understand the consequences? The internet and social media has become the driving force behind these ordinary citizens who are trying to gain popularity and are clueless as to the realities of life ie the tax payer pays in accordance with the law but gets nothing in return except chaos from the unruly masses with damages and costs for the tax payer. Creation of employment is the not the tax payers responsibility.

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