Everyone reading this post has pretty comfortable shoes. All it takes to know that is that you have internet access. Would you want to swap your shoes for those of a typical South African? Quite likely unemployed, living far from work and struggling with barely functioning public transport to get to work, reliant on public healthcare (so, given the strikes at the moment, reliant on staying healthy) and not having ADT to protect your home from criminals.
Yes, and no broadband internet.
Pair #1: Citizen shoes
It is exactly because we are not a typical South Africans that we must be so careful when diving into policy debates. It is incredibly easy to argue self-serving points from the comfort of our own shoes.
Ideally, policy should be discussed under the threat or promise that you will be instantly reincarnated into a random person in our country. Free public healthcare is too expensive for the tax payers to afford? Perhaps, but what about those who cannot afford to pay for healthcare? What about if you were born tomorrow into a family with a single bread-winner supporting an extended family?
Think the tax burden should be shared more equally with a less progressive tax system? Compare the salary you earn to the wages you pay. Imagine you were on the receiving end of the wages you pay.
I’m not saying you can’t argue against protective labour laws or free electricity, I’m saying make sure you first put on someone else’s shoes.
Pair #2: Government shoes
The great irony for me is that our illustrious revolutionary government, after five decades as the outside party struggling against the rules, abuses and self-serving policies of an incumbent government, has stepped so quickly into that those same Apartheid-style government shoes.
Control the media, restrict access to public information, allow floor-crossing (which benefits majority parties and hurts minority parties), spit and fume apopletically when questioned – government policies that protect the ruling party at all costs are blind to the possibilities that the current ruling party might end up on the outside again one day. Is this an ability or unwillingness to play fair and put themselves in other people’s shoes, or religious fervour providing visions of an eternal ANC majority in office?
Or maybe just for the lifetime of the current politicians in power?