We are all in this together

After a challenging year, RAVEN BENNY expresses the need for South Africans to come together in the new year

Who could have known that with the first month of the new year behind us, staff back at work and kids going back to school that things would be almost normal again? We cannot help but look back thankfully. It was a rocky road filled with obstacles, but also wonderful people and organisations that got us to where we are.

There is an old African saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. And it was Al Gore, back in 2008, who added: “We have to go far, quickly, and that means we have to quickly find a way to change the world’s consciousness about exactly what we are facing and how we have to work to solve it.”

And here we are. Many of us feel somewhat uncertain about our current situation and how it affects us knowing that, collectively, we have taken a knock. Businesses closed down and many jobs were lost. Now, we are looking for solutions rather than more challenges.

With the budget speech, many ministers will say that this is a tough financial situation with substantial budget cuts required to survive as a country. But, as we look to our leaders for answers, we need more.

Yes, there is a financial crisis, but what matters now is how we respond to it. I believe leadership must rise to the challenge and not fall by the crisis. Collaboration is a wonderful way to show cooperation and understanding of the situation. We know that the government cannot do it on their own, but it must demonstrate that it knows what to do.

As a people, we can show that we learned from our experiences with lockdown – being deprived certain luxuries, making cutbacks and capitalising on what we did have. There are clever ways to adjust and continue afresh.

The coronavirus isn’t solely responsible for the financial situation in South Africa. Another contributor is the worldwide economic decline. So, herein lies the opportunity for South Africa to play its part in the global response to a global crisis. The rest of the world looks to us too because we all have a common goal. Survival.

We not only want to, but need to emerge after a year that has been tough on everyone. Now, we must pick up the pieces, move with caution and the benefit of our experiences, carefully, into the new era with the knowledge that things like travel for leisure is a luxury and not necessity; and working from home is a viable option for many.

Our healthcare system needs much more work, and we commend our frontline heroes who tirelessly battle on. But we all can and must be seen to contribute positively to the efforts of those who bravely fight to keep us safe.

We are a resilient people who have faced dark moments through our lifetime. We remember and mourn the thousands of loved ones lost. This crisis might not be over yet, but we are strong together and must rise to continue to live our lives to our full potential.

Raven Benny has been a C5, 6 and 7 quadriplegic since 2000. He is married and has five children, is mad about wheelchair rugby and represented South Africa in 2003 and 2005. He relocated from Cape Town to Durban, where he was appointed the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of QASA from August 1, 2019. email: coo@qasa.co.za.

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