As Scouts, the past few days have been horrifying to witness. We have seen acts of violence between fellow South Africans, we have seen the destruction of property and livelihoods.
While we condemn the use of violence as a means of protest, we must acknowledge the deep divides we face as a nation. Divisions of poverty, unemployment, ethnic and tribal lines that the ongoing COVID crisis has deepened and broadened. Many of our citizens are struggling to find a solution for their situation and so are turning to desperate measures in the hope that these could be a way forward.
The insanity of the situation is no more clearly portrayed than when two groups of the public clash in armed conflict at one shopping mall with live ammunition, while at another mall less than 10km away people queue patiently waiting for their COVID vaccinations.
We are a country that has a long way to travel to find the promise that was Madiba’s dream of a prosperous Rainbow nation. But we should not forget that when the fires are put out and the smoke clears we need to live together as a nation, we need to find food for our families and we need to find the means to educate and care for the health and well-being of each other. The actions of the past days do not eradicate the challenges we face and, in some cases, make the hole deeper and harder to climb out of.
But, I find hope and inspiration as I hear stories of people from diverse communities standing up to protect the infrastructure and livelihoods of others because they want to make sure there is “ a place for Gogo to buy bread and medicine”. I hear stories of people in communities grouping their resources to ensure that babies get formula and nappies and there is food on the table for all. I hear stories of people volunteering their time and resources to help clean up and rebuild after the protests have passed. I see photos of people of all ethnicities working together to rebuild. It is this camaraderie and cohesion that will lay foundations to build our country’s future together.
Let us never forget we are a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout. Let us never forget that we are Messengers of Peace and that we stand together to build bridges in our communities. Let us not forget our responsibility to be leaders in our communities and to be part of the rebuilding of our fragile, beloved country.
In these fraught times, be safe and look out for one another and spread the message that working together we are stronger no matter who or where we are. There are crises we must face beyond just the COVID situation, but we are better facing them together than fighting ourselves and not the real enemies.
Do what you can to help uplift society, to contribute constructively, and to drive positive discussions taking place around you. We need to be the role models that promote the values of unity, support, service and tolerance. This is what it means to be Messengers of Peace. This is what it means to be good citizens as Scouts!
Yours in Scouting