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Don’t Try To Be Perfect.  The Cracks Are What Allow The Light to Get In

Dont Try To Be Perfect. The Cracks Are What Allow The Light to Get In

Don’t Try To Be Perfect.  The Cracks Are What Allow The Light to Get In

One thing I’ve learned since starting to write articles like this is that you can always find a relevant quote to support whatever it is you’re writing about.

For example, as this is the first article in a brand-new year, I wanted to kick off with something rousing. Something positive. Something to inspire you to start 2023 in the best possible way.

And guess what?

There are a bunch of great quotes supporting what I want to say:

The title of this piece, for example, was inspired by the late, though immortal in our memories, Leonard Cohen, who wrote:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack, a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

Then there’s this gem from actor David Della Rocco:

“There are two kinds of people in this world – your talkers and your doers. Most people are just talkers. But when it is all said and done, it’s the doers that change this world. And when they do that, they change us, and that’s why we never forget them.”

And how about this one by the writer, Edmund Lee:

 “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers..”

Apart from the fact that they all focus on the benefits of being a doer, what else do you notice about these quotes?

I’ll tell you:

None of them advises celebrating the whingers in our lives.

You know the ones – the people who complain about how bad things are and yet do nothing to try and make them better.

The keyboard warriors, the “Karens,” the armchair critics and the know-it-all arm wavers at weekend braais.

These are the people who are very quick to talk about “the cracks.” They love to tell us that there are just. So. Many. Cracks! 

Which are getting bigger all the time. 

But no one seems to care about fixing them.

I have a question for those people:

What about you?

How about actually doing something positive to make our country better instead of standing there, complaining and moaning?

Because last time I checked, whinging rarely contributes in any meaningful way to solving the problem.

Just ask Meghan Markle.

It’s far too easy to blame Apartheid, colonialism, corruption, etc. And I’m not saying there isn’t a reason to. But at the end of the day, blame in and of itself doesn’t help move us forward. It just holds us back. 

What’s important is what we do today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

Do we sit here and complain, or do we get out of our chairs and do something about it?

Thankfully, many incredible people in South Africa have done and are continuing to do, amazing things – despite our country’s dark legacy.

People like Zilungile Zimela, the PR & marketing manager of FunDza Literacy Trust. Zimela is a founding member of the Invoked Debating Consortium, the first debating society at Walter Sisulu University’s East London campus. After helping her team win several championships and pushing for isiXhosa to be a category language, Zilungile went on to coach the first team to ever win in that category. She is also the first queer woman to receive the Advanced Leadership Silver and Advanced Communicator Silver awards.

When asked what drives her, she replied, “I am driven by the rural, marginalised and segregated child who does not see beyond the grazing farms and marriage as an immediate attainment of a goal for a girl child.”

She is passionate about showing South Africa’s young people that anyone can be a person of consequence, regardless of their background.

Leana de Beer, Chief Executive of Feenix, is another inspirational doer. Instead of moaning about the lack of funding for university students, she created a public benefit organisation that gives students a platform to formalise their fundraising efforts and connects them with communities that are willing to fund their education.

She believes it’s essential to pursue your passion and dreams, but even more important to prioritise your education, “because it allows you to sit in rooms, and grants you access to people and spaces that will help you reach your destination,” she says.

Then there’s Swati Dhlamini, a candidate attorney with TN Mcanyana Attorneys. He’s also the founder of the non-profit Ubuciko Youth Development Agency, which helps people in his community reach their full potential and address social ills through extra classes, basic legal and crime prevention training, and entrepreneurship training. 

His advice for young people?

Never surrender to your circumstances or give up on your goals.

Of course, I could go on, but space and time don’t allow me to. Suffice to say these are just a few of the many thousands of South Africans making a difference in our country every day. And while it’s encouraging and inspiring to read about their stories, I know amazing work is being done by so many other everyday people whose efforts will likely never make it into the magazines and newspapers, but who selflessly continue to bring light and hope to the people in their communities.

The hardworking gogos who start and run community gardens to help supply their neighbourhoods with healthy, fresh vegetables…

Teachers who stay at school, voluntarily, after hours to help children with their reading and maths…

Retired artisans who donate their time and expertise to passing on their skills to others so they can find employment…

These are the people doing what they can, where they are, with what they have.

They understand it’s not sustainable to simply accept what’s happening in South Africa. They know the continual lowering of standards, the prevalence of the victim mindset, and a general unwillingness to get involved, are all serving to cripple our country.

There is even, much as it pains me to say it, a dark side to being resilient. Many South Africans, when faced with a problem, become super resourceful and find a workaround.

No power? No problem – we’ll just have generators, inverters, and solar panels. No water? All good – let’s dig a borehole and install a Jo-Jo tank. Government hospitals and schools going downhill? We’ll just spend more money going private.

Resilience and resourcefulness are admirable qualities, but they’re only ever supposed to be short-term coping mechanisms for short-term problems. Somewhere along the line, however, they’ve become a way of life.

Yet it doesn’t change the one unavoidable truth:

We are circling the drain.  We have to do something to plug that gaping hole before we all fall through it.

So, let’s take inspiration from those people who are rising above, giving back, and making a vital difference.

And let’s heed Dylan Thomas’s immortal words: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

We are not pawns in someone else’s game of chess.

We can choose to build each other up with action instead of tearing each other down with vitriol and negativity.

And, instead of moaning about how bad the cracks are, why not reframe them so we see them in the way Leonard Cohen asks us to – as places through which we can shine our light?