I guess it’s true when they say your upbringing affect your character which consequently determine your decision making in life. The surrounding environment you grew up in may affect how you see things and how you orchestrate things like planning for your future and how to react to unexpected challenges life has to offer.
As they say, the future holds no guarantees one can assume it’s the reason me and friends at the campus like to jump into the imaginary world and talk about how we like to see ourselves in the next five years or so. Some people say we crazy because we talk about weird stuff and neglect that life is all about reality not “dreams”. The name of the activity (which is what we do) is called “Give us the unexpected to talk about” of which we practice every Monday where one member of the crew must come up with a topic we can discuss and share our thoughts about it and give recommendations where necessary.
Well, one day we bounced off in some topic which says “what would you prioritize in this country should you become president”, of which some people find it boring and irrelevant to be a hot potato among young people. I started as its one of the rules in the crew that the person who came up with a topic in the last discussion is the first one who share his thoughts on the next given topic. My ideas were strongly around prioritizing education, improve government spending in a social grant to reduce poverty and promoting entrepreneurship. The person came after I became the devil’s advocate on the matter of social grant, he pointed out that we can instead use that money for job creation. He concluded his argument by stating that an increase in tax can attain free higher quality education.
The third guy touched more on attracting foreign investment and ensuring that energy is stable to support the business sector and using the social grant money to improve entrepreneurship. In that moment I felt stupid because the idea of improving social grant to fight poverty seems general and not well thought because it has some detrimental consequences, such as encouraging people to be lazy because the government gives free money which could deter life improvement. As always I decided to be adamant about my claims and avoided arguing further.
It didn’t end there, the last person I thought would side with my thoughts in this matter had the distinctive opinion which focused on job creation among the youth to fight poverty. He dismissed the idea of the social grant by stating that it’s a burden to the government and the one of free higher education because “it’s unfeasible considering the economic condition of the country”. However, he supported the idea of entrepreneurship as a tool to fight poverty. That came as a relief in my mind because I saw that we had something in common which is “entrepreneurship”
What I noticed is that all these ideas given by my friends were from a privileged perspective because, to be honest, my friends do not understand what poverty means. They don’t know the NSFAS application form, their parents pay their fees some of them drive nice cars which are why their opinions do not mostly accommodate the poor they think breaking out of poverty is a walk in a park. I felt very challenged at that time but when I realized that the people I’m talking to are from the middle class that hasn’t tasted the life of being poor, I was satisfied with my thoughts and decided not to justify any further because sometimes you understand somethings when you experience them unlike when you picture them.
I assume my friends need to be reminded the saying that says “never judge a person until you walk a mile in their shoes”. Because it’s the experience that causes people to be biased in some particular situations.
Ali Baloyi is a student at the University of Johannesburg, you can follow his “craft” at Alibaloyiblog.wordpress.com