When the offence is that you’re offended

When the offence is that you’re offended

i wrote a brief piece about Entitlement the other day [check it out by clicking here if you haven’t yet] and then i had coffee with my friend Megan.

Who told me what i already knew that the first post was just touching the tip of the iceberg and needed to go a lot deeper, but then gave me some excellent examples.

i do also feel that for those of you that have been engaging with this stuff, wrestling with it and trying to figure it out, that i shouldn’t have to lead you the whole journey and hopefully by just raising some issues and giving some examples, there becomes the start of a conversation to take to your friends, life group, family or community and then really chew this stuff through more together. Or in the comments section after this post if you’re serious about engaging with this stuff.

After all, as i like to say: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it throw stones in glass houses. 

WHOSE ENTITLEMENT IS IT ANYWAYS?

So back to that thing. Megan mentioned two examples, which most of us probably take for granted and probably shouldn’t.

[1] The Beggar and My Bin

i wake up to a loud noise in the middle of the night. i stumble outside and see a person of the street rummaging through my dustbin, spilling most of the contents on the ground.

i am enraged. “How dare he?” is probably what i think. “How dare he make such a mess that i am going to have to clean up later?”

FREEZEFRAME

Just stop for a moment. Back up a few steps. And try to view this scene from outside of your body. What is going on here?

A man… a human being… if you’re a person of faith you might go as far as saying “A person created in the image of God” because that should really help it sink in a little bit further… is digging in my trash… in the hopes of finding some scrap of food or piece of garbage that he can hopefully turn into money somehow.

How inhumane are we to see that picture and the piece we walk away with is: That person is messing up my piece of the street.

There is a human being digging in my trash for the purpose of trying to stay alive a little more comfortably.

Explain it away, justify it, coat it with a thick layer of “probably drink or drugs” or whatever you need to do to make the image go away and become “normal” again.

That should absolutely horrify us. And yet it doesn’t. It is something we accept… for someone else to be doing.

It’s okay for me if that is someone else’s son. Someone else’s mother. Someone else’s child. Someone else’s friend.

As long as it doesn’t inconvenience me too much when i have to go and clean it up.

[2] The Beggar at the Light. 

It really offends me when I pull up at the traffic lights and there is someone begging for money. And they’re not even selling the Big Issue or those offensive joke sheet paper things. Urgh, and this mother has a little child with her. What a bad mother. I am so offended right now.

Right?

FREEZEFRAME

Just stop for a moment. Back up a few steps. And try to view this scene from outside of your body. What is going on here?

Same thing, right? We have a human being yada yada yada whose daily life has been reduced to standing at a traffic light in the hope that someone will take pity on her. Maybe toss her a half eaten sandwich or some money to buy some food for her child.

“I can’t believe this person is so lazy and doesn’t just go and get a job”, we’ll think to ourselves, or out loud to whoever is in the car with us.

We rarely see the person. Usually it’s the annoyance. The offence of how hard my life is that i have to deal with this person now and they won’t even take “No!” for an answer.

ENTITLEMENT IN ITS MANY SHAPES AND FORMS

This rabbit hole goes so much deeper and as i suggested earlier, i hope this will be a catalyst for some conversations you have this weekend. What are the things you feel entitled to? And what is the next step? 

Would love to hear some thoughts and ideas in the comments.

i hope i’ve offended you with this line of thinking… because as C.K.Louis says:

ck

About the Author:

Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.

20 Comments

  1. Kathy May 14, 2016 at 11:17 am - Reply

    We sometimes get vagrants dining in our bins, and most of the time they are quite neat, sometimes even distributing excess bins into other bins if it’s too much (if I forget the bins one week it builds up).

    It wasn’t always the case, as they were quite untidy a year ago. Our neighborhood crime watch has banned putting bins out at night now because real criminals use the vagrants as a cover apparently. Now we must wake just before the bin truck.

    They still have a quick look and take what they need.

    The vagrants are fine, but it’s really the other gangster type guys who ruin it for them. I suppose a gangster could be any race, but in Cape Town it’s usually a colored guy around 17 to 50. I feel for the vagrants and give them food as well, but don’t know what to do about the gangsters who are looking to steal for drugs.

    • brettfish May 14, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      i’m not a big fan of the word ‘vagrant’ at all or ‘bergie’ which a lot of people use – both seem to be dehumanising words and we need to remember that these are people digging in our trash which is part of the point of the article. When i [you] see someone digging in my trash is my initial feeling that i am better than then somehow? That might be worth examining cos what is it in me that i think makes me better? Or do i just have a better situation presently…?

  2. Kathy May 14, 2016 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Sorry I mean digging not dining lol

  3. Lebo May 16, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Hey man nice blog. I just want to ask if you heard that proposal for Sandton to house share with black people. I Agee it’s good. Do you think it good. Would you consider this proposal and open up a room for a black guy? Or even a half garage or a space area. How can the return of land be applied practically going forward for people like you and suburbs residents. I think room share is the best. If you rent, then you pay the rent until you leave. If yiu own then it’s permanent or until the guy gets on his feet to move up. You then take in another. How is that for you.

    • brettfish May 16, 2016 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Yoh, Lebo, that sounds amazing. i think the best ways forwards are going to be ways forward together so that house share idea sounds great – when UCT had a housing crisis with their students we actually met with someone to look at doing just that but the need was not there at the time and unfortunately for us we were just about to be moved out of our place anyways so would have only been a really temporary solution. But i really dig that idea alongside people moving into areas where everyone doesn’t look like them which is what we’re looking at now as we look for a place to stay…

      Great idea – if you have a link please share
      love b fish

  4. Johan May 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I saw that Sandton thing.

    http://city-press.news24.com/News/mngxitama-whites-in-sandton-must-share-empty-rooms-with-homeless-20160515

    I find it a bit naive though as how does one know it wouldn’t open up your house to burglaries?

    Also; if you are in Sandton, you are generally successful and why would you want to downgrade or open yourself to unnecessary risk. If I had to help out, I’d donate rather than house-share. I think its well intentioned by impractical. It seems like some are jealous of other’s success and want us all in the same basket of poverty.

    By all means we should help (and we do with tax after tax), but don’t open yourself to crime.

    • brettfish May 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      i wonder what you mean by successful, Johan? Privileged? Rich? Living in excess? i would imagine all of those things on probably anyone that lives in Sandton and so sharing their house with someone different to them sounds like it might be the ideal medicine to help them gain some valuable life experience…

  5. Johan May 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    We need to closely look at our protest culture in SA. Express your right without infringing on the rights of others. The BURN-FREE generation seems to be doing a lot of naughty things lately.

    • brettfish May 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      While those words are easy to type i’m sure, we maybe need to ask some deeper questions as to why things were being burned? Was it possibly because peaceful protests weren’t being listened to? Was it because twenty plus years into post-apartheid South Africa has not changed much for the poorest of the poor and this is one of the only ways they feel able to get peoples’ attention? Don’t dismiss the generation before taking some time to seriously listen and ask questions and see what the real story is…

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  7. Lebo May 16, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    You dig the idea but something came up so you didn’t do it? Your next place if it’s got a spare room, will you do it? I’d like to see what you doing personally to help poor guys. Or if you are not comfortable with a man as you have a wife, a young black girl? You u always have space even a lounge half, with curtains. But it’s a step you might not be ready to take. Maybe as you still recovering racist as you state here. But thanks for the reading.

    • brettfish May 17, 2016 at 7:43 am - Reply

      No, i think you misunderstood me there. We looked at doing it but when we spoke to someone managing the crisis there was no-one in need and it was probably a good thing as we were literally a couple of weeks from being out of our place which would have only brought temporary relief. We would totally consider having someone in our house [we have had a person who was struggling with drugs move into our house for a while and previously in Stellenbosch had a student stay with us for a few months] if the situation arose.

      At the moment we are using some of our money to support people and causes that help and i am going to be volunteering at an after school program that our church is about to start. It is a little difficult at the moment as we are staying with other people while we look for a place to stay and so can’t make those kinds of decisions as this place is not ‘our own’.

  8. Lebo May 17, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

    I say man when you do, not now. When you have a place then will you do it? I understand not a man but a young black lady or even a poor white girl. I know you helping in other ways but the question is there. Will you invite another person to share your house or flat in the future when you move out?

    One more thing I am asking us your opinions on media like Beyonce, jayzee and all these stars. Do you think the plan is for black people to emulate this lifestyle, but as we never reach it we spend and use credit cards to stay poor. It seems like a plan to keep us poor and wanting a western lifestyle.

    Also why does the media show black women with wigs on. Our own hair is our own so why do they encourage it with media. Is it to make us feel inferior and be forced to spend. Our natural beauty must be encouraged just as in the West encourage their women. But all media is bad for women’s self image, weight issues, chair all of it. But more for us black ladies as we are more fuller and also our hair is not like a wig. As a man what do you think of this?

    Lastly I have white friends and they always ask me what I’m thinking regarding the news. This land issue, I don’t think it applies to suburbs and flats and small areas. I think it’s farms and big areas. But government owns a lot of land. We need to look at where and what land to fix things. If you know someone who can propose a plan. A well made plan is better than just mobs going to all houses and throwing people out.

    Do you think we can regroup this rainbow nation or is it gone?

    • brettfish May 18, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

      Some great questions Lebo and i agree with you fully that the western lifestyle is not one to be emulated [even by white people – it’s based on greed and some people having while others lack – absolutely awful, we need a new system] and i would highly encourage people to be themselves rather than aiming at some mythical “Western superior standard” – i love to celebrate the diversity in other races and hate it when anyone feels they have to look like someone else to be accepted or good enough…

      i really do have hope for SA but i think we need change fast which is why i write [largely for white people to try and bring the apathetic and comfortable and disinterested to the table] but i’m not sure we ever had the rainbow that was dangled in front of us but perhaps one day that will be more true…

  9. Lebo May 17, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Please I forgot also why this fashion to whiten the skin. It’s very bad for the skin. It must not be allowed. It’s really terrible and must be illegal. These dangerous creams.

    • brettfish May 18, 2016 at 7:15 am - Reply

      Again that feels sad to me if people are doing it because they are not happy being who they are. i think dark skin is really great and if i had it i would not lighten it for anything… i guess when you’ve grown up your whole life with the negativity associated with dark skin that you might be more open to doing whatever you can to try and alleviate that but it feels like a pity.

  10. Lebo May 18, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Show the white people what they have to gain by throwing away this western things. You iu can wake up, it can be any day, you have plenty crops and food, your neighbors come to give millies, you have a shirt or clothing u made for this neighbors. You clean and tend the crops, by 2pm you are free to relax or do arts and enjoy the day itself. Make music, play with the kids. No threat of eviction if you have no rent. No troubles of money. Maybe no money. All working because we like to help others. I think as a writer you can follow this and elaborate here.

    Alternate it’s sitting in traffic in your Porsche and going to office. 12 hours of thinking til your head is painful then eat sleep wake. For what? A big house yiu never see. Maybe a week holiday to sit by a hotel pool?

    You must show them what they can have… Yiu cannot say don’t be greedy, don’t go for that car… Show them a new life, a new way.

    Like your cartoon on inequality. We don’t want to all be watching a game. It’s not the aim. Break out of the box and we actually all want to be growing things together, talking, making a fire, discovering new science together.

    You cannot take down a system. It’s impossible. You need to show an alternative. Do you understand.

    Keep up the good work, but maybe look again at the aims, what will this new system look like and is a lifetime if happiness and social interaction and growing things and living better than an hour a day in traffic with your new Porsche.

    • brettfish May 18, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Thanks Lebo. i would hate to have a new Porsche. Especially in this country, especially now. i would love a land where for starters everyone has access to a home and a toilet in their home… and food… and love the idea of growing food… i love your heart bro and that it extends to black and white – where are you based?

  11. Lebo May 18, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    This applies to all, black and white.

  12. South Africa - Brett Fish May 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    […] When the offence is that you’re offended – looking a little deeper into entitlement in South Africa. […]

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