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29 July 2011

Because Juju and I are special

I'm special. That's why I would like to think that no rules apply to me, says Susan Erasmus. But what if everyone thinks that?

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I'm special. That's why I would like to think that no rules apply to me, says Susan Erasmus. But what if everyone thinks that?

In the back of your mind you probably also think you're pretty special. You all know you have to look out for number one.  It's you, after all, and exceptions need to be made for your convenience. In fact, you would pretty much like Carte Blanche to do as you like. In every single one of us there is a little dictator hiding – sometimes hiding very well. That's just human nature.

When three-year-old tyrants are not disciplined, they grow into 30-year-old tyrants. It's enough to say that tantrums in children are unattractive to witness. In adults they are simply revolting.

Very few people can handle power sensibly. There is a reason why there are so many leaders, but so few Mandelas and Gandhis.  Unbridled power does have the tendency to bring out the absolute pits in people. And it seems to get worse over time. (Think Robert Mugabe – he's what's left of human nature when everyone around you is too scared to say no).

Maybe thinking I am more special than others is what I need to do to become a champion of the poor. I have a few things that count in may favour.  I do earn a lot less than the current champion of the poor, so I suppose that's a good start. I also have no trust funds, alas. And there are kids in Matric who are younger than my car. But for some reason I suspect the ANCYL will not be queueing to appoint me as their next chairperson.

OK, back to you – because that's what it's all about, isn't it? In your ideal world, traffic rules, bank regulations, the minor inconveniences of municipal regulations are all there for other people to obey. Taxes, laws – all necessary things for the running of the country, but what difference will it make if you don't pay your dues, or play according to the rules?

And this is why we cannot be allowed to think we're so special. Because if we allow ourselves to go down that road, all rules instantly fall away. Economies will collapse, because no one wants to pay tax, there will be mayhem on the roads, municipalities will fall into disarray, many long fingers will be dipping into public funds. I have clearly been reading this morning's papers. Let's move swiftly along.

Now on to the Man of the Moment, our one and only Juju. He must be a complete gift to all English teachers who have to explain the concept of irony to their students. A champion of the poor, who wears wristwatches worth a quarter of a million, one who expresses solidarity with Alexandra residents against the filthy rich who live in Sandton (where do you think he lives?) and one who accuses journalists, who earn  way less than he does, of wanting to protect ill-gotten wealth. The jury is still out on exactly where he got his wealth, but I suspect not above board. But by being on the board.

Public figures need to lead by example. And if you're a public figure fighting on behalf of the poor, you can't flash your cash. You also can't think you're special, or above rules and regulations that apply to other people. Well, you can, but usually this is not good for your political career. Just ask Jacob Zuma, Sheryl Cwele, Robert McBride and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. I think I've made my point.

So here's a note to Juju: carry on exactly as you are. It seems to work around here. And to the rest of you: you're not special. I am not either. And it's time to fill in my tax return.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, July 2011)

 
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