2021 felt like crossing a bridge over troubled water. But then I totally embrace Anand Giridharadas, the American journalist and author, when he says;
“We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.”
I live at the foot of Africa, near the most beautiful Cape in the world. We call Cape Town our Mother City, and she watches over her children, both black and white. Those who are orphans of prosperity and us, who have.
Having navigated the troubled waters that was 2021, I ask myself this question:
What more can I do?
There are many of us in South Africa that have aplenty, but there are millions of our black South Africans that have very little. Sometimes nothing. Mostly born in the basement of our society, and condemned to remain there.
And here I am, having been born and raised in the decaying prosperity of Apartheid South Africa. Both beneficiary of privilege and victim of prejudice. Coronavirus and the vicious decimation of life and liberty, has made me pause again to ask myself, “What More Can I Do?”
The answer is simple. In every interaction with a person that was born in the basement of society, be generous. Give and don’t take.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan, 17th century English writer and Puritan preacher.
As Isabel Allende, the world's most widely read Spanish-language author, says; “My daughter Paula taught me the two mottos by which I lead my life and by which I lead my foundation. ‘We only have what we give’ and ‘when in doubt ask yourself the question, What is the most generous thing to do in this case?’”
It is the season of Joy. The time of Giving. So I have found inspiration in the most unexpected Anthem for Protest worldwide; ODE TO JOY. This song was originally a poem, penned by the German poet Friedrich Schiller around 1785 and incorporated by Beethoven in his 9th symphony. In 1972 it was adopted as the Anthem of Europe.
Ode to Joy became the most popular protest song the world over and perhaps the most famous performance of Ode to Joy was conducted by Leonard Bernstein in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
So, in the time of suffering, in the time of rejoicing, I have chosen this as my Ode as I exit 2021.
ODE TO JOY
Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, thy sanctuary!
Thy magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where thy gentle wing abides.
Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend,
Add his to the jubilation!
Yes, and also whoever has just one soul
To call his own in this world!
All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breasts.
Gladly, as His suns fly
through the heavens’ grand plan
Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory.
Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
The future will prevail, and I am determined to do more – with joy, the beautiful spark of the gods.
‘Be embraced, Millions!’ – that’s how I will endeavour to ‘do more’.
“Just pull your shit together and go” as fitness guru Joseph wrote in his best seller.