Message from Chief Commissioner Gary Pienaar
Today our nation celebrates that special day in 1994 when the first democratic elections were held in South Africa. The ‘Freedom Day’ public holiday reminds us of this important moment in our country’s history, when South Africans from many different communities joined together as a collective whole to begin a new process of nation building.
Freedom is defined as ‘the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants’. For example, we all have the freedom of choice. Everyone has the right to exercise their freedom in multiple different ways to become whatever they wish to be. However, with such freedom comes great responsibility. We may be free to make choices, but we are not absolved from the consequences of those choices. So, while I may have the freedom to purchase any cool drink that I like, I also have the responsibility to dispose of the plastic container in an environmentally friendly manner, which does not impact on my fellow citizens.
These individual freedoms that we all enjoy today are often taken for granted. It is only in the absence of freedom that we truly appreciate how important it is. Right now, our country is faced with the enormous challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. While we are nearing the end of the initial lockdown measures first announced by our President, we have not yet reached a point where things can return to normal. Restrictions on our personal freedoms are likely to continue for some time yet. When we are tempted to grumble about the situation, or frustrations begin to rise because we cannot do what we would like to, let us be reminded of our greater responsibilities to our country and to each other. We are all called on to sacrifice some of our individual freedoms now, for the greater good of our communities in the future.
The Scout Promise reminds us of our personal duty to God, to other people and to ourselves. We also have a personal and collective responsibility to treasure and protect our freedoms. I think the following quote sums it up best – “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do what we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” (Pastor Peter Marshall).
All over the world Scouts are called upon to be “Messengers of Peace” by doing remarkable work in the communities in which they live. As Scouts, we strive to contribute to alleviate social issues ranging from feeding the hungry to creating solutions to environmental issues, through the service projects we do.
During these times where our personal freedoms have been curtailed for the greater good, it’s important that as Scouts we continue to be aware of the needs of others whilst keeping ourselves and others safe. For example, some of our Rovers and Scouters are assisting vulnerable community members with grocery shopping, whilst others are contributing to food parcel initiatives, etc.. The difficulties that we currently face will one day be over. Until then, remember to stay at home, stay safe and use our freedom of choice to ‘flatten the curve’ together!
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