Recently, I shouted angrily at my dear niece who is living with me while she is attending university here in Windhoek.
The fracas was because I have had it with people who are selfish to the point where they cannot see anything beyond what directly adds something to their pocket, their immediate demands and wants. My frustration rises from the unanswered question of, ‘When do we accept that we ARE each other’s keeper?’
On that fateful day, my niece left to make deliveries of cookies and then go to her internship in the early morning as normal. However, we had put out our extra-large load of trash for pick-up the night before and unbeknownst to us, the late-night trash rummaging crew that routinely scavenges the green garbage bins in our neighbourhood, had uncharacteristically wreaked havoc, tearing every single bag open and throwing mounds of garbage all over the sidewalk in front of our house.
And yet, my dear one walked by that enormous pile of destroyed garbage and broken stuff strewn all over the sidewalk, and she didn’t bat an eye. She acted as if such a mess was not her problem. It never occurred to her that as a part of a household, anything affecting the property is her business; it is equally her problem to make sure the place where she lives, eats, and sleeps (for free), is safe, clean, well-kept and a positive refuge for all of us.
To make matters worse, my dear one didn’t bother to come back into the house to inform any of us about what she’d seen; she didn’t text us or make a call and she certainly didn’t stay around to help us clean it up! I drove out on my way to work and saw the mess for the first time. The rest of the household was late for work, as we were forced clean up the trashy mess that affected our home. But, my little one went on with her day as if nothing was unusual. When I called to ask about the matter - “Not my problem” – was her attitude and that me angry, but it also makes me sad.
Can it be that people feel no ownership whatsoever to anything that they don’t interpret as in theirs? In other words, “if it doesn’t add something to ME, then I don’t give a damn.”
What will happen to families, communities, and even the country as a whole if everyone adopts that policy? Is that level of selfishness a part of the many things that are eroding this democracy?
It dawned on me that some of my friends have told me similar stories about their younger family members. These kids act is if they are entitled to food, shelter, allowances, clothes, transportation, internet, water, electricity and a nice, protected, clean home. And, they think the ‘things’ they love to use, magically appear from nowhere. Who told them that? Everything I own, is the result of hard work over decades; it is not manna from heaven.
It is critical that people step up and ‘own’ everything in their homes, communities, and country. In other words, people need to CARE about what happens around them. This habit of going along as if things are ‘someone else’s problem,’ must stop.
People get robbed in broad daylight in Central Windhoek and folks all around see it happening, watch it like a television reality show and do absolutely nothing. If they (or their loved ones) were the victim, they want help, but if it doesn’t happen to them, then they couldn’t care less. Such selfishness is corrosive; we can do better.
These are tough economic times right now and we won’t emerge in tact as a united community if we don’t hold hands more often. We have what it takes to rise to this challenge and open our hearts and minds to include more than our selfish interests.