Growing up in Cape Town has been one of the greatest privileges. With uncountable beaches and mountains in every direction of our home, we are honestly spoiled beyond belief. White sand, crystal blue oceans. Beautiful sunrises and unforgettable sunsets. Some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.
How are we allowing for that to be taken from us right beneath our eyes. We are beginning to live in fear. Fear of taking our children to the beach with the uncertainty of ‘are we going to leave unharmed?’. Are we being watched? Can we let our kids run and play freely? I’ve started feeling anxious whenever I go to public places with my son. That fear of the unknown of what the result of the outing may be.
Our economy and country needs every foreign visitor we can get to keep people employed, to bring money into our country. But why would anybody want to visit a place that they need to fear? The crime that is happening right on our doorstep is making international news – tourists being stabbed and left fighting for their lives doing something that every human being should feel safe doing – going for a walk on the beach.
One of my favourite things to do with my son is taking him to the beach. He dreams of being a surfer like his Daddy, and loves more than anything, to go down to the beach for a swim and to build sandcastles. Truth is, I can’t always have somebody with me. This very beach pictured is one of the beaches where the crime rate is the highest. This is the very beach that people have been stabbed and harmed at. This is one of ours, and many others favourite beach.
SO.. what now? Do we just sit back and allow for this to happen? What happens next? Are we just going to settle with the fact that these horrific people are taking something so special away from us? The mountains the surround us. The beaches that we love so very much? How do we stop this from happening to the next innocent victim? How do we take back the beaches that we grew up on? How do we make them safe again?
Something needs to change. We pay so much attention to the small, petty issues that are happening in our communities. We spend too much of our energy worrying about what is happening in the back yards of our neighbours. But instead, we should be coming together as a community to fight for the safety of our people. We all deserve to be able to walk the mountains and beaches without feeling unsafe!
That being said, nothing will ever change if we just sit back and wait for the next person to do something about it. There’s no good in simply moaning about it, and telling our family and friends never to visit again from overseas. There’s no point in planning your exit route to immigrate. I can’t tell you the amount of conversations I have overheard about people deciding it is time to get their gun licence. But how is that going to make an impact to our community as a whole? This is our country. It is beautiful. We just need to take control. It is time to stand together as a community to create some kind of plan.
Truth is, I am not quite sure what my plan is myself. I am far from politically clued up. But I just wanted to create this post to make YOU think.
I just wanted to take an exert out of a book I have been reading, ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell:
“There was a time, not very long ago, in the desperately poor New York City neigbourhoods of Brownsville and East New York, when the streets would turn into ghost towns at dusk. Ordinary working people wouldn’t walk on the sidewalks. Children wouldn’t ride their bicycles on the streets. Old folks wouldn’t sit on the stoops and park benches. The drug trade ran so rampant and gang warfare was so ubiquitous in that part of Brooklyn that most people would take to safety in their apartment at nightfall. Police officers who served in Brownsville in the 1980’s and early 1990’s say that, in those years, as soon as the sun went down their radios exploded with chatter between beat officers and their dispatchers over every conceivable kind of violent and dangerous crime. In 1992, there were 2,154 murders in New York City and 626,182 serious crimes, with the weight of those crimes falling hardest in places like Brownsville and East New York. But then something strange happened. At some mysterious and critical point, the crime rate began to turn. It tipped. Within five years, murders had dropped 64.3% to 770 and total crimes had fallen by almost 355.893. In Brownsville and East New York, the sidewalks filled up again, the bicycles came back, and old folks reappeared on the stoops.
The New York City police will tell you that what happened in New York was that the city’s policing strategies dramatically improved. Criminologists point to the decline of the crack trade and the aging of the population. Economists, meanwhile, say that the gradual improvement of in the city’s economy over the course of the 1990’s had the effect of employing those who might otherwise have become criminals. These are the conventional explanations for the rise and fall of social problems.”
A page later, he explains: ” The fall of New York’s crime rate is a textbook example of an epidemic in action. It gives a clear example of an epidemic in action. It wasn’t that some huge percentage of would be murderers sat up in 1993 and decided not to commit any more crimes. Nor was it that the police managed magically to intervene in a huge percentage of situations that would otherwise have turned deadly. What happened is that small number of people in the small number of situations in which the police or the new social forces had some impact started behaving differently, and that behavior somehow spread to other would-be criminals in similar situations. Somehow a large number of people in New York got ‘infected’ with an anti-crime virus in a short time.”
The book goes on explaining some incredibly logical and interesting examples of what had happened in New York City. But, to finish off, I wanted to share this last little bit: “These three characteristics – one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.”
I feel that the above is a perfect example of how we CAN make a change in our community. Now, let’s just figure out how, and create a tipping point so we can take back the safety of our community!
How are you going to get involved?