Anybody who is familiar with South Africa will most likely know the extent of the political volatility here and how “overly sensitive” everybody is! If you so much as BREATHE in the wrong direction now, you are issued with a multitude of labels.
My most recently acquired being “INHUMANE” and “CLUELESS”.
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Yesterday I attended a child’s birthday party which turned into a completely distorted bully fest among the mothers sitting around the table – well, to be more specific, I was the mother who had made a responding statement and one of the other mothers decided to use this as an opportunity to jump on to a bullying pulpit – whilst the rest of them simply sat there with mouths full of teeth.
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There were recently fires in Hout Bay in the Western Cape, which destroyed the majority of one of the informal settlements in the area. To clarify, the people that live in these informal settlements live in self-constructed tin and wood houses, which as you can imagine is not a great place to live at any point, but especially not during Winter. The majority of the "other" people who live in Hout Bay however are what would be considered “very well off” – ie. Wealthy.
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When the fires destroyed the homes on the informal settlement, the residents of Hout Bay stepped in from all over to support the people who had been affected. They gave them food, clothing, blankets, money and even some shelter and did whatever they could to assist with the killing of the fires themselves.
The local municipal government put the affected people into tin block style housing on a local sports field as a temporary measure until they managed to re-build more stable and environmentally safe housing for them. A substantial amount of money has already been invested into this.
The people who lost their homes grew impatient with the local government dragging their feet in getting the housing plan into motion as well as with electricity issues etc. Emotions running high, they eventually held the rest of the town “hostage” – blocking all entrances and exits into the suburb. They started setting things on fire, rolling people’s cars, smashing people’s shop windows and more…
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Cape Town – Vehicles have been overturned, windows smashed and temporary food trucks destroyed as Hout Bay protests enter the third day, authorities said on Monday. City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety JP Smith asked police to use video footage of "rioters" engaged in public violence and damaging state and private property, to ensure individuals were prosecuted. "The situation in Hout Bay has become serious and it is clear that it is no longer a matter of community protest, but has now entered the realm of sheer criminality," Smith said. "Every available city traffic law enforcement and metro police resource has been dispatched to Hout Bay to attempt to contain the situation." "Their [the protesters'] behaviour is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in a democratic dispensation." - An excerpt from News24
Getting back to the party…
When the conversation about the Hout Bay fires came up and everybody was remarking on how unacceptable it is for those people to have to live in such a manner etc. and that us privileged people just have no idea what it is to be disadvantaged in such a way... I interjected with a statement.
“Whilst I understand what you are saying and they shouldn’t have to live like that – their anger and destructive behaviour displayed towards the community that A) employs a good portion of them and B) were the first to come to their aid in the disaster, is COMPLETELY misdirected and wrong!”
Well you would swear I had just verbally abused this woman with the way she attacked me after that! In a matter of seconds she bellowed off about politics and how I was inhumane and completely clueless… I am a entitled individual who has no concept of what their reality is like and so she went on…
Whilst I might not have a real perspective of what it is like to be in their situation - that has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I said! – NOTHING at all!
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It was taken completely out of context – in fact I don’t think she even listened to me because she was clearly on her own little rampage! She then went on to tell me that the way I treat my domestic cleaner is “inhumane” – why? Because I had mentioned prior that after breaking the THIRD set of shelving in my fridge, I had confronted her and asked her “are you going to pay for this? Because if you aren’t, then please be more careful when cleaning our things.”
Apparently that was inhumane!
After contesting that statement saying “employing a person to do a job, is business – they are there to fulfill a set of tasks efficiently and in any other work place, they would be given warnings or be dismissed if they didn’t do their job properly…
No apparently this is not the case…
According to her, this precedent is only applicable for so called “privileged” individuals… everybody else, can do as crappy a job as they like and that’s ok, we must just turn a blind eye and carry on…
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Realising that this woman was simply fueled by an enormous amount of bitterness, I decided to put an end to the very one sided conversation by extending my hand to say “bygones” - which needless to say, was received with a rather large dose of reluctance.
We left shortly after – as there was nothing that was going to remove the elephant from the room at that point.
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Upon repeated reflection of the incident, I can honestly say – I have never felt more offended and hurt by an individual’s completely inaccurate and out of line assumptions and statements about my character as an individual – especially considering that she had met me only an hour prior.
Nobody has the right to pass a judgement like that on another, especially not to their face – and even more so, when it was absolutely un-called for.
Personally, I think people who behave like that say a lot more about themselves than they do about anybody else.
Anybody who knows me AT ALL – not even very well – would testify to the fact that whilst I might be a strong woman, I am neither inhumane nor clueless.
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Anyhow, as I believe – every single situation and encounter we are confronted with is presented to teach us something…
Perhaps in this instance, it is for me to remind myself that others opinions of me, are none of my business!
Yeah… I think I will go with that one.
Until next time!
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