For many the panic of the current pandemic isn’t dissipating. The longer we are at home, the deeper the panic sets in and the further down we hide our thoughts and realities. This hit home last week in a conversation with a friend about a robbery that happened in her village. She was talking to a relative long after curfew started and her relative suddenly said there were people trying to get into the animal shed. Thankfully they raised an alarm and the thieves took off so no animals were lost.
I knew it had to be more than that.
I sat wondering, asking questions like who are these people confident enough to flout the curfew directives? Why did they choose this particular homestead? Was it because they knew it was older folks living there who couldn’t do much? Were they hungry or just greedy? Couldn’t they do something different or find another way to meet their needs? Couldn’t they just start a small business to get by? Are they just lazy?
I thought of the news stories of more developed economies than ours, where there rate of job losses is higher than ours. People used to a better life than ours, now out of work in places without social support structures. I thought about families in urban areas built around working every day and suddenly those daily jobs are gone and there is nothing on the table. Finally my mind came back to the casual labourers in the factories or construction sites who no longer have a source of livelihood but still have people with expectations for at least food, shelter and water.
Did you know muggings and petty theft are up? Do you know in certain places you can no longer jog freely any time of the day? Why the rise, you ask? It can’t be easy to provide food for your family when you have nothing. Let’s step outside our comfort zones for a little bit so we can understand these trends.
If you have enough food and can top up whenever supplies run low without major calculations you are in good shape. If your job is still intact and secure, if your children are in online classes, if your rent is paid, if your drivers, gardeners, housekeepers and nannies are paid, if your parents are well catered for, if your siblings aren’t camped at your doorstep or calling you all the time, if you can still choose what mode of transport to go out, if you are able to buy whatever medication you need…you are a have and it is indeed ok with you for now. That is my new definition of a ‘have’ mentioned a few posts ago.
The panic and desperation are super real for the rest.
What happens to those who had gone home for the weekend or on leave and were caught there by the cessation order? What happened to the security guard who was on his 4 days off only to hear that the firm has lost half its business so those at home cannot be reabsorbed? What happened to that housekeeper or nanny who can no longer go in because of lock down measures and her boss has had to find alternatives. What happened to the gardener whose boss has taken a pay cut and can’t afford him and cannot go home. What happens to the long distance bus driver and conductor who cannot work because the two largest cities and transit points are locked down?
What happens to the local kinyozi aka barbers and hairdressers who are paid based on work done, now that we are all opting for natural styles and home haircuts? What happens to the shoe sales man who can’t move his products because incomes are decreased and people are focusing on food stuff and household need? How many orders has the baker lost with all of us now baking cakes, cookies and bread? We could go on and on without limit but I won’t.
We need a longer term perspective when we look at the realities of the times. There are millions whose lives have been disrupted and need to pivot but cannot. There are many who will and have turned their high end cars into markets and meet needs at home but what about the millions whose only treasure was the menial skill they had and now that is in low demand or totally gone?
It is time to arise with alternative thinking.
We, me included, must look inward and really see the truth of our world. We bought the narrative that education is the key to success but what kind of education is that? If our past and current education systems were as good as purported how come we haven’t become a super power? If the education styles were so good, how come the US has so many struggling citizens and residents? If education really eradicated poverty, why is Afrika still so poor and allegedly backward? I dare say we were lied to and we bought the lie hook, line and sinker.
If education opens doors, why do we have so many unemployed graduates? If education really teaches us to think why are still grappling with the same issues our forefathers grappled with 60+ years later? Why are we creating workers not thinkers, complainers not problem solvers, followers not leaders?
Could it be that our education systems aren’t the right ones for us?
In Daniel 1, after the capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar asked for the finest of the captives of noble birth and education to be brought into his palace and taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans. The lived close to him, had a ration of the finest foods and drinks and access to the most brilliant teachers in the land to shape and shift them to be useful in his kingdom. He knew that if he wanted them to be useful for his kingdom, he had to change the way their minds worked and their belief systems.
Every time a shift happens for a people it starts with a drastic change in their education and a challenging of everything they knew before to upgrade what can be changed and discard the rest. Daniel and his three friends went into the training knowing who they were and their foundation well. They were able to determine what they would accept and what they wouldn’t. Their reliance on their God and their faith would always be the rudder of their choices and they would not back down if the thing requested would take them off track. Was it easy? Not likely! Were they targeted? Absolutely! Did it stop them? Nope! Did they get to their goal? Most definitely!!
Now I have a list of questions about us:
- How can we do the same for our people?
- How do we raise our community’s ability to think and solve?
- How do we ensure the right education that will change minds and attitudes long term?
- How do we connect to realities that will bring hope and resolution?
- How do we change our common ability to thrive and support our brothers, sisters, neighbours, fellow citizens?
- How do we build for all and not just for our bellies?
The reality is, that if we do nothing to help change the fortunes of those in greater need than us, our generations will not rise out of the bondage that is the current society and we will be held responsible by God and history for doing nothing in our days to help others rise into places of true strength, wisdom and knowledge.