Destruction. Disease. Death.
There’s a time for us to Reframe, Rebirth, Rise up.
Today is Youth Day in South Africa. Youth Day commemorates the Soweto Uprising, which took place on 16 June 1976, where thousands of black students were ambushed by the apartheid regime. On Youth Day, South Africans pay tribute to the lives of these students and recognises the role of the youth in the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime.
We all kicked off TwengtyTwenty thinking, “the year of TwentyPlenty”, “it’s going to be a good good year”. I know I certainly did. I stood on my balcony, watching the fireworks east west south and north London, and on TV, badly signing Auld Lang Syne and welcoming the year in with my mother, almost 89, who had made the long haul flight over from Johannesburg to London after swearing in 2014 she would never do that again. I started the year with eternal gratitude, a brilliant job in an agency I love, clients who respected me, my crystalline energetic healing practice growing and two adult sons who were secure and happy, not to mention many travel plans for the year, and surrounded globally by a group of friends and teachers who feed my soul.
On the 8th of January, sitting on a plane bound for client meetings in Copenhagen, I saw on Facebook a plane had been shot down in Iran. Little did I know that 8 hours later I would find out that my newly married neighbours (literally the flat only four steps away from mine) were tragically killed on that flight. This was mass murder. Saeed and Noulifor were good, loving humans. We spent more time talking on the landing and in our parking lot, than in each other’s flats, we were not “friends” but we were really good neighbours. The memorial service was so damned hard, and although I speak no Farsi, I understood every word spoken by the two fathers. I see Saeed’s parents, all the time as they remain the apartment, their son in law and daughter tell me how they will never come to terms with their deaths; the days go by, the questions remain unanswered, the government less caring. A country, a family destroyed by war; how do you ever move “on”? I created crystal mandalas sending out healing energy for all who died under these tragic circumstances, but even more so for the living who are left behind.
The news of my neighbours literally threw me back to my few months living in Dubai in 2013; I had a young Syrian friend, a chef at a top restaurant; I helped him improve his English, he educated me on the destruction of his country. I remain deeply affected by the wars in Syria and Iran. I have spent the last few months reframing my thoughts on a world that supports such destruction, how we ignore war because we live in our cosy comfort zones. We cannot allow this to just pass us by.
Early in March, COVID-19 became a reality in London. Murmurings of lockdowns and face-masks, we were hurled into phases of disbelief and creation of conspiracy theories, and I do believe we gave far too much negative energy to this disease (I believe in the law of attraction and resonance — it works both ways — if you send fear to the Universe, it amplifies, just like love does!) and, in my less than humble opinion, we allowed it to spread like any plague is wont to; by mid-March, my younger son was forced to cancel his extensive travel plans to Japan, we had planned an early Mother’s Day dinner as he should have been away. We didn’t know then the next time we would share a meal would be mid-June! By the end of the month, my dearest friend (36) who lives in my suburb in London, become seriously ill; she could not get an ambulance to take her to hospital. I walked into a pharmacy asking for Panadol and everyone jumped away as though I was a leper.. She was horribly ill, and truth be told, I was scared for her. My 89-year mother in Johannesburg was scheduled to have a pacemaker fitted, our family was divided as to whether the op should go ahead (it did, successfully), and she was meant to move into her retirement village at the end of March. Lockdown rules applied, she stayed in her flat on my brother’s property and only moved in this weekend past. And in recent days, three friends across the globe, have lost a parent to the disease
I watched people I know with small businesses, all over the world, having to shut them down, being financially destroyed. I worried about the elderly and the vulnerable, so I supported people I know in London and in South Africa that are in real need, I joined associations and helped fund raise, I started attending online yoga sessions and virtual ceremonies, always donating. I sent healing love to the world at large by creating crystalline mandalas, meditating and manifesting and offering free sessions.
This disease had become personal. But not catastrophic.
I learnt to embrace my dining-desk, mixing work in my home, more productive with my AdLand work. I am a naturally early riser with a strong personal programme - but now I could increase that (no commute gave me up to 2 and half hours of my life back every day, not being in central London saved me money that I could use for personal growth courses and to donate even more). I became even more grateful for my home, my housemate, my limited walks with friends in my hood and across the river, my soul sisters and brothers across the globe who held me when I needed it most. I upped the ante on my mediation and journalling. I started ideating programmes to help people find ways to maximise their lives.
Conversations, podcasts, talks and articles now abound now on how to re-integrate at work, do we go back, should we have mandated working from home days, do we even need offices? I, for one, know I miss the creative environment, the joy of leaning over a colleague’s shoulder to read something, being in the same room to sense the body language of my colleagues or clients, the eye contact, holding and hugging. How we used to do things has shifted, but there is no “new normal”.
Over time, routine will settle in. But how will this really serve us? Will we retain our evolution?
But this “lockdown stuff” suddenly became all trivial, (note I do not say the disease is trivial!), when once again the world was galvanised into action following the murder of George Floyd in the USA. My antenna flared, my heart broke, my emotions on edge. I felt thrown back viciously in time to growing up in apartheid South Africa. I listened carefully to my friends — people of colour globally — to understand now what I could, should, must do. I used to say, “my sons don’t see colour”, now I know to say they do not discriminate on the basis of colour. My friend pointed out that a subtle change in language was crucial in how we make people feel. My global advertising agency (Havas) instantly provided us with material to read and listen to, giving us a day off work to reflect and consider our biases and behaviours (unconscious or not).
I have over the past few weeks sat deeply contemplating my actions while growing up. I share that I grew up in a very privileged white household, my father proudly voted for the National Party and angrily dismissed our long term live in gardener two weeks after the 1976 Soweto June uprisings for calling my father by his first name (only years later did my father acknowledge his behaviour). I was never good at protesting, but attending the University of Cape Town in the early 1980s, (aka Moscow on the Hill), meant that I had no choice but to be involved. The Greek South Africans were very split — George Bizos, a pillar of our society, was Nelson Mandela’s lawyer, (he and my father argued vociferously). Supportive Greeks were considered communists, or worse. Love across race was banned, children born into multiracial homes were scorned. Atrocities for being born of Colour. We, the privileged whites, managed through global sanctions, to live our easy lives, we avoided the urban bombs, and most of us prayed Mandela wouldn’t die in prison.
And then “it” was over. We celebrated the ANC’s victory, we were relieved Nelson Mandela was our President and called for peace; somehow we even became the darlings of sport.
We assumed racism would die. We thought the world would learn from our mistakes.Well it didn’t. And it still hasn’t. Post-apartheid years are not always that different — I use these two examples given it is Youth Day in SA. Lilian and Mertheas, my domestic lady and her husband lived with us from 1994 til 2008 when I moved to Cape Town. I made sure their son went to school in our suburb from the age of 3, but in 2008 we were was told he could not attend the chosen high school — the official line was he was “not in the right zone”, we called them out for being racist, and he went on to represent SA in Global Hip Hop Championships, was a prefect, obtained a scholarship from PWC and is now a fully-fledged accountant. (When COVID-19 hit, Lilian was deeply concerned for me and the boys given the stats in the UK, while I worried desperately for them as there were no stats!) In 2004, when my oldest son started high school, I was told my sons should not study isiZulu as it was “too difficult for white kids to pass”, yet they both went on to do so in their final year at school.
Now, right now, conversations need to escalate from circumstances of COVID and how we deal with returning to work, space between desks to more relevant, pressing, meaningful considerations. Around how we hire, promote, integrate cultures, and encourage an unbiased society. This time is now.
I look back now over my 49 years in SA and know, my regret will always be that “I did not do enough” to equalise the world view and fight racism. I did not really rise up. Never before have the words rung so true “the system isn’t broken; it was built that way”.
There is a time to do more. Reframe our actions and our thoughts. 6 months in to 2020, 44 years to the day since the Soweto uprisings, I acknowledge this year has truly been apocalyptical (apocalypse is a Greek word meaning “revelation”, “an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling”).
It’s a time to be the Phoenix. (In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor). It is a time to re-examine who I am and the deeper contributions I must make to society. At the age of 56, I do not feel old, instead, I know I have more wisdom, insights, knowledge and experience and it is my duty to tap into this for the betterment of society. I lean deeply into the concept of philotimia (philotimo is a Greek noun translating to “love of honour”; philotimo is almost impossible to translate sufficiently as it describes a complex array of virtues — love, generosity, grace). It’s a time to look at the world through a prism of light and allow the colours to dance their healing light. I can do this. I can do more. And I am.
If we all combine our energies and actively use the language of love and grace, shift our biases, and get involved, we can and will change the world. It’s the law of attraction and resonance.
It is time. My life, your life, this lifetime, will never be repeated. It is time to Reframe, Rebirth Rise Up.
note — definitions from wikipedia
There’s a time for us to Reframe, Rebirth, Rise up.
My all-time favourite anthem Paul Van Dyk’s Time of our lives (video above)
There’s a time for us to let go
There’s a time for holding on
A time to speak, a time to listen
There’s a time for us to grow
There’s a time for laying low down
There’s a time for getting high
A time for peace, a time for fighting
A time to live, a time to die
A time to scream, a time for silence
A time for truth against the lie
A time for faith, a time for science
There’s a time for us to shine
There is a time for mixed believing
There’s a time to understand
A time for hurt, a time for healing
A time to run to make your stand
This is the time of our lives