The nickname for South Africa is the Rainbow Nation. SA was nicknamed by Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Some of you may not know the history of segregation in South Africa. A form of legal segregation call Apartheid was the law for several years. Back in the early 1900’s, an effort to separate the different ethnic groups from each other was begun. Through many laws passed by the Parliament, people of South Africa were split into, ultimately, two groups. Whites were permitted to own land and vote. Blacks and coloreds (Indians from India, Asians and others of mixed heritage) were not permitted to own land, hold office or vote. In this extremely condensed version of events, the outcome was that in 1994, South Africa held its first election in which everyone could vote.
In the good old USA, we have taken the right to vote for granted. On our visit to the Apartheid Museum, there were several striking displays. One in particular was a photograph of the first Parliament that was elected after “One Man, One Vote” was adopted. The sea of representatives was made up of every color imaginable. How cool was that?
The second display was a photograph of a polling station taken from the air. The line wrapped for almost a mile in a circular fashion around the building. How precious is your right to express your opinion at the ballot box? Americans have become numb to the avalanche of political ads with each party trying to out American the other. The amount of money raised on the campaigns could easily go to feeding the poor or protecting the elderly, or finding and sharing a cure for cancer or some other disease. Yet, our system of democracy is a farce to what it is intended to be.
Instead of exporting true democracy around the world, Americans have given the world sagging pants and the “B” word. At the hostel we stayed at in Capetown, there was this dude from Israel who was wearing his pants around the bottom of his buttocks. Now, I understand teenagers. I was once one myself. Remember when we wore long hair and T-shirts with sayings on them? “I’m with Stupid?” “Kiss My Grits”
The world takes us seriously when we have an i-phone in our hands, but not when it comes to having good sense. When the most recognizable people are athletes and entertainers, but not political figures, we are in trouble. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa recently called for his country to examine their democracy to see if it is addressing the needs of all of the country. When we try this in America, people talk about how America is being taken away and how we are becoming Socialists.
How about doing your talking at the ballot box? Stop yapping about what is not right until you go vote? How about going further than that? How about taking someone with you to vote? That, however, seems too much like right.
I asked a 14 year-old on our mission trip if she thought being discriminated against was fair and what would she do about it. The stunned look on her face told me that we have a long way to go as a country to live up to the hype we like to sell to the world.
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