I work very hard for the money I earn, to pay the bills I have, to eat the food I eat, to have pets, to live on a smallholding.
I work very hard every day to afford uncapped Wi-Fi, a Telkom line, a Vodacom contract, a washing machine.
My middle class family worked very hard every day to send me to a middle class High School, where I mingled and learnt the way of other middle class children from middle class families.
I succeeded, in spite of my best efforts not to. Despite being a black sheep. Despite being ‘the emotional’ one.
I work very hard every day to live the life I live. I don’t have millions in the bank. Don’t even really have thousands. Most end of the month, I don’t even have hundreds.
I don’t drive a fancy car. I don’t own a house or property. I grew up into the very middle class I grew up in, with very middle class views. Views on whether or not our country is functioning. Whether or not it is safe. Whether or not I should stay or flee. Whether or not our President is corrupt. Very middle class.
With the privilege that comes with it. Having a job at all, a stable one that affords me 3 warm meals a day, a roof over my head, a dog, a house with an indoor toilet, a phone, a cell phone, a car….
Let’s say that all vanishes today. Let’s say I get fired or retrenched. Let’s say I am suddenly brain damaged or deaf or blind or poor. So poor, that R150 a day becomes something you are willing to die for.
Let’s say your life condenses into a moment where the hope of earning R150 a day for a very long day of work, is something you will die for. Because that hope for R150 a day, is what will feed you.
That hope of earning R150 a day – which you get up at 4 in the morning to get ready for.
That hope of earning R150 a day – that you use your last R10 to catch a taxi to.
That hope of earning R150 a day – on an empty stomach, because the hope of R150 a day from yesterday was in vain.
Let’s say your whole life condenses into that moment. Where you and the thousands like you, in that moment, are not middle class.
You are not well off. You are not rich. You are not even really poor. Because in my mind poor equates to at least having something, even if it is not enough.
You literally have nothing.
Then who cares if our country is functioning? Who cares if it is safe? Leaving is not even the beginning of a thought you may have. What your president does or doesn’t do is of little concern.
What happens on the day you wake up, and your first thought is “Where am I going to find money for food today.”
Do you perhaps lose hope?
Do you perhaps turn to crime?
What do you do?
Where do you go when your country, your people, your government fails?
I grew up into the very middle class I grew up in. With all the opportunities it affords me by default.
The next time you judge the hell out of a government that is failing you, just for one moment consider what you have.
As of last year, 22% of the people in my country live on R11 a day.
When last did you spend R11? What did you spend it on?
The next time you sit in judgement from your very middle class dining room suite, in your very middle class house, in the middle class suburb you live in:
Consider for one moment whether or not you can survive on R11 a day.
Rethink your life.
Find your humanity.
Donate something if you can.
Support someone if you can.
Be more than some middle class douche.
Be someone’s Hope.
** The featured image is a photo I took of a young boy and his brother (I assume) while travelling on the train home from work one day. Just two little souls, with their parent, trying to live any kind of life in our country. Be their Hope.