Posted by: Lynne | 2007/05/10

Observations from afar....

Dear CS - With a small amount of objectivity (I hope!), I have been observing the CS bashing that went on lately. Having lived in London for the past 3 years, but still very much in touch with my family & friends in SA, I am quite astounded by the South African outlook on most issues, which has become increasingly strange to me....
(And before the general casting of stones start, I am here for professional reasons and not quite by choice, intending to return to SA when my tour of duty is up in 2 years' time, but making the most of the experience while I am here).
I have found the main difference between the British and SA interpersonal relations to be that in the UK the corner stone is that THE MAJORITY of people strive to be as civil, humane and tolerant as possible in any situation. I think of this as a "gentle" society, where my main worry is that I might offend others through my own ignorance and/or South Africaness. In contrast, in SA these values have gone out the window, it seems! Visiting there, I feel constantly "violated" by the harshness, defensiveness and general lack of civility displayed by EVERYONE. Hard as we may try to shift blame or justify ourselves, this appears to be a NATIONAL phenomenon, a sort of knee-jerk reaction to anything and anyone.
The CS bashing illustrated the worst of these traits: selfish ungrateful whining, motivated by the ninny-like idea that we are entitled to things/stuff, having it all our way, but most of all assuming that we have the right to be downright rude and obnoxious toward others. It is as if there is very little social conscience left: I daresay that these individuals are not even aware of the fact that their attitude is that of a spoilt toddler!!
And again, this unfortunately seems to me the prevailing attitude, illustrated every time a perceived "controversial" subject is addressed on the forum.
On the other hand (to use Naas's words!), South Africa has a brittle vibrancy to it, a palpable feeling of life, and a national sense of humour that I dearly miss every day. This quality is sadly lacking in the UK, or anywhere else, I think....
What is your take on the current "South African psyche" CS, or am I generalising too much?

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Ahhh, Lynne. You're so right about the loud whining from a small number ( but a few go a long way ) of spoilt toddlers. As "not the CS" implies, unfortunately after being liberated from a cruel and unjust system, we now need to be liberated from the cruelty and injustice within ourselves, inctead of feeling empowered to celebrate the worst within us.
And the Me generation has indeed run rampant --- of cours the most popular websites are those like MySpace which enable people to indulge in the fantasy that everything about themselves, from their beliefs to their bowel movements, must be fascinating to everyone else on earth !
I think one thing that feeds the climate of incivility is the pervasive experience of living within a system that despite fine words on the facade of the building, buried in the Constitution or on the posters, that doesn't care and doesn't listen. Eskom fouls up the electricity supply of a subcontinent for a decade or more, causing misery and loss to millions of South Africans, and none of those responsible will take responsibility or forego their bonuses. Hellkom runs the most expensive and uncaring telephone service possible --- and again, nobody cares that it causes severe problem and risk to so many people. And so on. We now labour under a different form of oppression, and one in which we receive no support or sympathy, and where we feel at least as powerless as ever. Probably more so, because at least during the Liberation struggle we belived that we would ultimately succeed, and in the struggle with negligent and uncaring bureaucracies, nobody seems to expect to win, ever.
And so we switch to little power trips, to trying to feel bigger by making other people look smaller.
( Oh, and John, I'm not sure that the people you're thinking of actually are fit to live with animals --- what did the poor honest animals do to deserve that ? :} An if playing cricket badly causes gloom and unfriendliness, we could be in for a bad few years ahead ! ).
And don't our national problems come from two sources, equally prejudiced ? Those who run down the country without reservation and without recognizing the good, and those who foolishly refuse to criticize anything at all about the coountry, thereby preventing all chance of improvement ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lynne | 2007/05/11

Thanks John - can't wait, really miss the old place......!

Reply to Lynne
Posted by: John | 2007/05/10

Lynn, sorry: I reread your post and I owe you an apology.

Hope that your UK visit is fun, profitable and everything you want it to be. Come back, though, we need you!

Reply to John
Posted by: Lynne | 2007/05/10

John, you are misunderstanding everything I asked:
I am talking about the generalised disregard people have for others (call it lack of manners, rudeness), and that they have no problem with being publicly rude towards others.
The English may be moody and unfriendly, but NOT the above.
I mentioned my observations while visiting SA, dealing with "real" people, not only here on the internet.
I did not run SA down, I was asking a question about interpersonal relations amongst people. If you look again, you will see that I am WORKING in the UK, and will be back in SA as soon as I can!
Please do not be so defensive that you fail to see the spirit in which I am asking CS's opininion on my own perceptions....

Reply to Lynne
Posted by: John | 2007/05/10

I'm not sure about the sweeping generalisation that Lynn makes. I agree that there are some people that are more suited to living with animals than other humans but to categorise a whole nation? It like saying the Irish are stupid, the Brits fear soap, the Germans lack a sense of humour and so on.

Indeed, a friend is visiting from the UK (like Lynn, he is working there for a while) and his experience of the English is that they are moody and unfriendly. He ascribes this to the fact that it seems to rain a lot, there, and also because they can't play cricket well.. Can this be true of the whole nation? No. In contrast you find them to be civil, "gentle', even. It seems as if you are living in different countries. Unless, of course, you are living in Buckingham palace and he in Brixton.

So, to say that all South Africans are lacking, based upon some isolated internet activity (and I mean isolated to this site which extends to the annexe) is bit of a stretch.

Too many South Africans living abroad, enamoured of their hosts and their culture, look askance at those - us - still here, home, in the country of our birth. Why? Why are South Africans so prepared to run the country of the birth down?

Reply to John
Posted by: Shae | 2007/05/10

I honestly dont know. On the one hand i would say that it is naive to think that any 1 individual an amke a difference but on the flip side i would say that it all starts with one person. As you can see, i feel helpless and as if this problem has reached such proportions that the entire human psyche has been engulfed by it and is now beyond reach and resolution. I suppose the best we as isolated optimists can do is to model that which we preach and it catches on.

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Lynne | 2007/05/10

Hi all - it seems we are all in agreement (and PLEASE note, my observations were not aimed at particular any individual here :-), we are after all South African, all of us!)
You are right Shae, but what worries me is that it all starts of small, on interpersonal level, and then fans out to where you get the sort of inhumanities you mention.
How do we pick it out, and stop it growing??

Reply to Lynne
Posted by: Buzz | 2007/05/10

I agree with you Lynne - and I'm guilty as charged!!! I would like to hear CS's opinion on this mindset and why it's become this way.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: Shae | 2007/05/10

Lynne, there is truth to what you're saying. I am SA'n and i agree with you. I do however think that its not fair to put all SA citizens under the same umbrella and considering there are currently ?billion South Africans hardly a conclusive or evidenced generalisation.

From where i stand tho. it would appear that the entire world (human race) has adopted a general sense of me, myself and i - irrespective of who i step on. One cannot ignore that whilst we are experiencing a decline in human decency and general lawlessness in SA, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousand or more dying in the US, Iran, Pakistan, and more as a result of our human ignorance and intolerance.
This has brought me much sadness as we have such capacity for love and compasson, if only we would use it.

Hence and in conclusion - we, as a human race, have a problem - not just a little segment of it on the map.

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Oops | 2007/05/10

I agree with y'all 100%. Too much spoilt brat attitude and no civility

Reply to Oops
Posted by: lady nina | 2007/05/10

hi lynne

i tend to agree with you, people think they are not accountable when they do an rude and insensitive post, strange that they don't realize that being disrespectfull to others is firstly a sign of how they treat themselves

it's easier to blame than to take responsibility.. to be the victim and expect others to bail us out

however i believe that what everything you do, comes back to you when you least expect it, that the reason why most of the people lives are such a mess, they are caught up in this circle of being rude, negative all the rest and then they get treated the same way

i wish each of us will learn to care more for ourselves and treat ourselves as precious and valuable, once we can get that right will it be impossible to have the need to hurt and humiliate others

when people are "like that" i can just feel sorry for them, imagine how much fear and resentment and guilt is inside them to make them act like that...

take care


Reply to lady nina
Posted by: not the CS | 2007/05/10


Reply to not the CS

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