The Season of Giving – “En Gee, En Gee” – Were you kind today?
By Natasja Beyleveld, Managing Director of Namibia Media Monitoring (NaMedia).
“You give little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give”. Kahlil Gibran.
So I guess the question here is, who are you? Not; who are you perceived to be, or who are you in public, or at the podium, or in cabinet, or in the board meeting, but, who are you ‘on the inside’ not just the ‘top side’. In Afrikaans it translates to “is jy bo blink maar onder stink”?
Have you realised that we’ve become less oblivious to those living in extreme poverty? The symbiosis of humanity has become human-like again, and our hands are open for receiving and open for giving what we can, where we can. Else you die in emotions of self-pity or become overwhelmed by the sad crisis suddenly unravelling through Covid-19.
But the transcription of this call-to-be-good is written in the language of kindness, of compassion.
What I am worried about is the amount of reporting on physical needs, but not touching the surface of people’s need to deal with their (daily, momentous) emotions. Having had depression and anxiety some time(s) ago, I can not imagine what it must feel like when your surroundings are also depressing, not merely your heavy chest. I have crazy friends (crazy attracts crazy) that people perceive as outgoing, loud, self-confident, funny, fun, the leaders of the atmosphere that everybody craves for. And still, some of them have severe anxiety, a secret to be kept and protected because of the fragility of the heart.
Are we sensitive to the emotions of the man on the side of the road, begging you in his eyes to give him a job, but smiling so not scare you away? It broke my heart doing a video for the One Economy Foundation fundraiser, interviewing some men on the side of the road.
I tried to find some positive messages for the President to wish him a happy birthday (last year), and this one man just started crying. Even I could not handle it. It broke my vibe and understanding of the Disney World we want to create and entertain with (because we’re positive at heart), but when the lights go off – there is a cold shack to go home to, perhaps no meal, perhaps starving children with complete disappointment evident in their eyes, but their bravery wants to show Papa that it’s okay; you didn’t fail us but the outside world did. Don’t tell me I’m being dramatic, because this happens daily to the biggest part of Namibia. Because when some suffer, we all feel and see the impact.
Ja-ja, I hear the tannie or oom saying that they, “the they” must work. But guys, honestly, have you seen our country’s skill set and the digital revolution? You can only buy that many wooden characters, beaded crafts, beer, coloured materials, vetkoek, face masks, kapana, or fish a day. The informal economy is not branded on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. The informal economy is not Beyonce, perhaps more Coca Cola or Tafel Lager. The heart is the culture, the heritage of a broken past that at times cruelly haunts our future (or presence). Being part of the minority group in Namibia, I don’t feel it unless the minority acts like a looser, like a bully, or harbours intolerance. That really peeps me off, because, why?
We’re all human – we share that! Can we focus on being a good human, not a Black, Coloured, White, Baster, Herero, Oshiwambo, Afrikaans, German, Damara…. you name it. It’s so old, and it doesn’t create unity in nations nor solve our problems in many cases.
Those you love, what do you find in common? Might it be…. Humour, kindness, forgiveness, grace, giving, entertainment, academics, philosophy, wisdom, spirituality, adventure, politics, laughing, reading, tattooing, fashion, travel, sport, singing, dancing? Find something beautiful in others, the creativity in ‘beings’, and celebrate that with them please. Regardless of what others might think or say; you’re shaping the world to become a better world to live in.
I love a bit of everyone; my “blokkop duitsers”, the old “afrikaanse beredeneerde omie”, the respectful “memes and tates” that are so advanced in years and whom I just feel like hugging, the freakin awesome comedians, presenters, businessmen and women that range across all vibes and tribes we have in Namibia.
I cherish the “I see you” moments of daily life. The cashier at Checkers in Maerua Mall (I always pay at Petra), the handsome and hard working security guard (gentleman) who always gives me the death stare when I run down the steps (to first sanitize then proceed), the Indian businessman in his cell-shop I always greet (with a masked smile) because he’s helped me so many times (even with parking money), the Shortie at the shop where I live (Olympia) who loves “a stukkie carrying my bags”, the Sakkie I have been buying newspapers from for 6 years and still pass and greet ambitiously every time I drive by, the Michael with his pointy shoes (ek skop ‘n kakkerlak morsdood in die hoek met my skoene) who’s a complete ghetto gangster and always looks after my car when I do my pharmacy runs; the Willem who once cried in front of me while doing an interview and now comes to wash my car every so often so that we can sort out some cashflow and take-aways as a “top me up.”
Were you kind today? Did you help someone else today? Did you see the good in the other human today, or did you not look for it? These are the questions that must become the shared rhythm in our beating hearts and our breathing lungs.
Sure, you’ll make many mistakes, you’ll see the judgers, but you’ll mostly be surprised by the kindness of those from whom you never expected it, embracing you from all sides. Don’t take everything up on yourself, because life is not about you – but about the purpose you have in glorifying the values that God, not man, gives us. Like Donkey says; “You hit me heart Shrek, real hard”. Maybe we need to knock the wind out of our sails more often, to find what matters in the ‘stillness’, not the race of life.