Time to take stock of how we can be better human beings
It has been a strange year. The growth of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT seems to have coincided with an unrelated but obvious declining sense of intelligence, humanity and kindness in its human counterparts — especially those in positions of great leadership across the world.
The war in Ukraine has so far cost a staggering half-a-million lives, with Russia showing no sign of backing off its brutal assault on its neighbour.
The Israel-Gaza war has also claimed some 18,000 lives, many of them children, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced by Israel’s relentless bombardment.
Ongoing conflict on the African continent, such as that in Ethiopia and Sudan, has seen thousands die and millions of people displaced from their homes.
The world, populated by selfish, vengeful and greedy leaders, seems increasingly apocalyptic and dystopian.
Back home, more than a year after the Covid lockdown and national disaster was lifted, we continue to fight a different war.
We need to try to recapture that feeling of nationhood, unity and optimism we enjoyed in 1994
And we are in danger of losing this battle against corruption, poverty, unemployment and inequality. In the Eastern Cape, there are areas where some children are, quite literally, dying of hunger.
Inflation has created a cost-of-living crisis in poorer households with food prices skyrocketing.
Load-shedding returned with a vengeance, causing some of our bigger industries — such as long-established vehicle manufacturers — to warn they would have to lay off thousands of workers.
But, as the end of the year approaches and we enjoy a much-deserved break with its accompanying joyous celebration with loved ones, we need to also take a deep breath and assess how we can be better human beings.
Our provincial government is not adequately meeting the huge responsibility of creating safety nets for those who suffer extreme poverty.
On the contrary, it is so inefficient at doing so that it has repeatedly sent back to the National Treasury money intended for this express purpose.
While civil society cannot alone shoulder that responsibility, we can all contribute to improved human welfare.
We need to try to recapture that feeling of nationhood, unity and optimism we enjoyed in 1994 when our internationally esteemed leader Nelson Mandela took the presidency.
As for our government, we can only hope that it will better facilitate a consistent supply of water and electricity to our people.
That alone would constitute the greatest blessing for millions who daily go without these basics.
Let us all do better by ourselves and one another.
We would like to wish all our readers a peaceful and joyful holiday. For those who observe Christmas, we wish you a merry and joyous one.
Be safe, be careful and be compassionate.
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