“Send me. Thuma mina.” Cyril Ramaphosa’s words last week as he quoted Hugh Masekela and called on South Africans to participate. “It is our intention…to bring together all our people who have the skills, who have the insights, who have the experience and capabilities to address the critical challenges that beset our country.”
Our Constitution – “the best constitution in the world” – had 1.7 million submissions from ordinary citizens, representing the participatory commitment of South Africans. Enshrined in the Constitution is the Bill of Rights, affirming the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. As our country enters a new era, we also start human rights month.
Human rights cannot be realised without responsibility. We can all help keep these rights alive not just for ourselves but also for others in our communities.
Here are some suggested ways for you to keep human rights alive:
- Lend a helping hand wherever there is a need in your community
- Treat people with reverence, respect and dignity
- Be kind, compassionate and sensitive to every human being
- Greet people warmly and speak to them courteously
- Encourage and foster a culture of learning and hard work; not a belief in entitlement
- Protect both private and public property from wanton destruction and theft
- Be honest and fair in all your dealings with others
- Respect the beliefs and opinions of others and their right to express their opinions
- Protect the animal and plant-life in your environment; use natural resources such as water sparingly
- Prevent unnecessary pollution and littering
- Do not endanger the lives of others by acting recklessly or disobeying rules and laws laid down to enforce safety and the protection of human life
- Solve any conflict in as peaceful a manner as possible
- Stand up against and report racism, xenophobia or sexism
- Stand up against and report physical and verbal abuse and bullying
- Stand up against and report social or relational abuse and bullying and the use of relationships to harass others through gossip, public humiliation and embarrassment, rumour-spreading, alienation or exclusion from a group
- Stand up against and report cyber or electronic bullying in which individuals use the internet, email or text messaging to threaten, hurt, single out, embarrass, spread rumours or reveal secrets about others.
These actions boil down to one thing: set the example, accept the responsibilities and act in ways that protect, ensure and uphold the basic human rights of each and every person in your community.