For the past 20 or so years, South Africans have walked a painful but necessary road to shift from an exclusive society which favoured a minority of people and sidelined the majority to a more inclusive society which made a place for all.
Part of this journey has involved putting diversity at the top of the agenda – for very good reasons. The previously favoured minority had to be educated and sensitised to the fact that the world, and, more specifically, our society, are very diverse. It is therefore much more sensible and realistic to embrace and celebrate this diversity in order that it becomes an asset for all, instead of a liability.
The focus on diversity must therefore continue. But maybe it’s also time to start focusing on something else as well – what we share in common.
Regardless of how diverse people may be regarding their culture, habits, lifestyles, religious views and so forth, as parents, we are all united by one thing – what we want for our children.
No matter if you are sitting in a boardroom in Sandton or a shack in Soweto, if you are a parent, you want EXACTLY the same three things for your children: a good education, a good job opportunity and a good life.
That’s it. No more, no less.
Now, if we all want the same thing, how long is it going to take us to start putting our hearts and minds together to work toward achieving these three things for our children?
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to us that, by working towards creating these three things for our children, we will be creating a much better reality for all of us – particularly for those of us who will be retiring in the next one or two decades.
It’s in the interest of all of us to ensure that our children have a good education so that they can enjoy good job opportunities so that they (and us) can live good lives.
Imagine a future like that! Imagine a future where our children leave school with the right skills for a productive working life. Imagine all those youngsters using their intelligence, enthusiasm and education to build better lives for all of us. Imagine a future where those of us who have acquired much experience over the years that we have been in the workplace start sharing the insights, skills and wisdom that cannot be found in any textbook with those youngsters.
One of the most basic responsibilities of each of us as parents is to provide a safe home environment in which our children can grow up – an environment which allows them to explore, learn, grow, develop and ultimately prosper. Many of us have sought to provide such a safe environment with high walls, electric fences and armed response security companies.
But, as parents, we have thus far failed our children miserably. Apart from failing to set a good example for our children to follow, we have failed to provide a safe environment, a safe country, for our children.
Isn’t it time we started connecting the dots and recognising our duty as parents to work together under the banner of what we share in common – a desire for a good future for our children – to create a reality in which all can live and prosper?
While we are indeed a diverse nation, we are also a nation that shares some things in common. Let’s start working on what we share in common to build and leave a legacy of which we can all be proud.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.