What is ‘Active Citizenship’ anyway?
“Our (LMF) mission is to provide holistic support in the form of academic and life skills intervention so that all children are intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually equipped to reach their full potential and become active citizens.”
The idea that we all have a part to play in making our world a better place is not a new one, but in recent years it’s received a buzz word: Active Citizenship.
Our world needs change. As you look around yourself, you may be overwhelmed by the myriad of problems you see around you. There’s homelessness, unemployment, abuse, addiction, lack of education, inequality, racism and oppression. There’s injustice.
While this is evident all over the world, it is especially true of South Africa, a country where systemic oppression and injustice was prolific for so long, and where, even though much of those systems have since been outlawed, the effects of which are still being felt by so many every day. The need is overwhelming.
Addressing these needs and creating lasting change in our society is a daunting task and, for many, it can feel like a lonely and tiring road. But when we begin to understand that we all have a part to play, and that real change is only actually achievable when we partner together, the task becomes less daunting, less overwhelming, less lonely.
As Mandela Day approaches, we’re acutely aware of the impact that giants such as Madiba made, and while we should let their example inspire us to action, we shouldn’t let our feeling of not being able to measure up to their legacy cripple us into undervaluing our own role. Sure, some may follow in their footsteps and become public figureheads for justice, but for you and I it may mean doing what we can. Paying our domestic workers and gardeners a living wage; sharing a meal with the homeless man and listening to his dreams for his future; looking the person at the robot in the eye rather than dismissing them with a shake of the head; asking your car guard where he comes from; speaking up where you see racism outwork itself in your day to day; volunteering your time at an organisation that is passionate about what you’re passionate about; recycling; showing kindness to the person in the shop who may be experiencing pain that you could never imagine; not degrading our country in the way we speak about it. Loving each other. Caring for those around us. Advocating for the rights of those whose voice has been taken from them or are just too tired to keep speaking.
This is active citizenship. The understanding that we are all different, but our responsibility to change our communities is the same.