My part of city

I seldom get a chance to just sit and enjoy my house in solitude during the daylight hours. I’m either at work or doing one of a million weekend activities or playing with the dogs or whatever. This weekend was an exception when I found myself lounging in my sunroom with nothing better to do than just unwind.

It was then that I could enjoy one of the best things about living in Joburg: I could chill in my centrally located house and look out at my large green garden and pool while listening to the hustle of traffic (city life) just a block away. A lot of people in the world have to experience city life from apartments where your space is limited and your green views only the top of trees (if you are that lucky). Yes, there are great conveniences of living “in” the city (as apposed to suburbia) but it comes at a price of space and peace and freedom.

However, in Joburg a lot of us lucky folk have a completely different experience. While I live 3 minutes drive from a highway and 5 minutes from a large mall and I can easily walk to my corner cafe or a smaller mall or my local restaurant strip (such as city life offers) I can also just take a moment and enjoy all the trees and birds and calmness around me from my actual house which overlooks a park.

And I have all these benefits without having to life in an expensive of “upper class” neighbourhood. Nope, I’m just an average Joburg Joanne. It’s a little bit surreal if you think about it: traffic and the richest mile in Africa a stones throw away and then complete serenity right at my feet as my Retriever lazes away in the midday sun – too content to even chase the weavers and finches snacking on my lawn.

While the sounds of traffic might seem annoying it’s something I love for the simple reason that it tells me where I am and that I am surrounded by people, industry and ambition – it’s inspiring. While Ariel from the Little Mermaid yearns to “be where the people are” I already am there while also being completely on my own in.  See, surreal.

There is a lot to do in Joburg if you live here but for those moments where you just want to be on your own it’s good to know home is right in the middle of it.

It is the worst or times, it is the best of times

I’ve got to admit that I’ve never read Great Expectations but I feel like now would be a great time to write a sequel. Like the setting of Charles Dickens’ novel I feel we’re on the cusp of a revolution albeit quite a different one: more social and humanitarian than industrial (though some would argue for this point too) in nature

Although the world has been through a lot throughout history I feel like the mark of this revolution starts with two massive political occurrences: Brexit and Trump.

Like many other people I’ve been stewing over these things for the past few months. I’m pretty sure I know why people chose these two ends but I’m not entirely sure those who didn’t want these things to happen ultimately know how it happened. Trump was elected back in Nov and CNN had a feature on the how as recent as yesterday. It’s this not knowing how it happened to the people it happened to that absolutely baffles me. How in this modern age is the so called “free world” stumped by these questions? So that’s my “how?” questions and my biggest peeve about this whole situation

I will not be told that the Brexit margin of favour was large enough to really reflect the will of the people when the margin was so narrow (less than one percent) exasperated by the fact that some people thought there may be an opportunity of a do over or that this wasn’t serious. How can the free world be so naïve?

Similarly, how is the American democracy set up that someone can lose the so-called “popular vote” but then because of the College set up still win the right to rule the nation? Do the American’s know that’s not really a democracy? Do people know that some people’s votes count more than others? How would they feel about that? How can the free world sit back and not realise they are not as embowered as they think they are?

And when some votes ultimately count more than others and you feel very strongly about not having Trump as a president why did you wait until after the election to have rally’s and marches? He raises a good point (yes I said it) actually: did you, disgruntled American scientist, vote?  Or did you think that there was no way it could happen and you didn’t feel strong enough about Hilary to go and vote? Look, Hilary is not the greatest alternative but you’d probably be in a better place right now had you at least chosen anyone but Trump.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because as a South African I know that democracy and rights are hard earned and hard fought for sometimes. Real democracy and freedom – not some version of it where people can still be discriminated against because they are women or because they are gay.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who was involved in the struggle. Where the Americans had a great civil war we had a quieter battle which resembled something in between a cold war, a civil war and a cold should world war (sanctions).   It often got ugly, it was often beautiful, striking and inspirational. And while I’m sure good people did things they regret (things that had to be done) and I am sure a lot of bad people on both sides got away with very bad things, thank you for everyone who was involved whether you are a retrospective villan or hero today. Thank you for a society which, at the very least, understands that elections are important – that they can make a difference. And thank you for a constitution which at least promises to respect me for who I am provided I respect those around me. It’s a fairly simple rule actually.

Yes, the realist in me knows that there is still a lot of unfairness and injustice and people are still being treated in the worst possible way because they are the “other” but when it comes down to it, the law will stand up for all of us. That law was hard fought for and agreed upon after the fact and therein lies another reason it’s great to be South African.

So, while the world it reacting in all kinds of ways to Brexit and Trump and I am sure there will be minor and bigger battles fought over these things I do hope that the world can walk away years from now less naïve of what freedom, choice and freedom of choice really mean. These are not things that should be taken for granted so maybe it warrants another battle or two if it’s going to make the world really reflect and stand up for itself and each other. This is the time to get interested in politics and make a stand on behalf od everyone being discriminated against and being run away from.

What the Brexit “yes” vote people and the Trump supporters seem to be overlooking is something a lot more critical than protecting what is “theirs”. It’s the fact that the people they are discriminating against en masse is actually the enemy of their enemy as well (do you think they would flee if they supported the baddies?) and frankly, you probably will want to count their numbers in their favour if this ever becomes a huge show down.

I could end dramatically by saying Good Luck to all of us the free world” but no, I’m thinking more along the lines of: Now is the time to take responsibility for the free world you want to live in and become informed and active in it’s true formation” because honestly, luck has nothing to do with this.