In lieu of the recent tragic gang rape, murder, and mutilation of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen, South Africa is up in arms, united – as they should be. Stop Rape. Beep for Rape. Kill the rapists.
None of this is going to change a rapists mentality – all we are going to do is perpetuate anger, fear and violence.
These words by SA actor and comic Louw Venter on his Facebook best encapsulate the sentiments that I feel we as a nation should embrace. I have borrowed them from him to share here. Because I feel the more people who understand this – the better.
Hurts can only be healed with love.
HOW ANGRY ARE YOU? I’m very angry. I’m the kind of angry that makes me want to do very violent things to people I don’t know. I want to be as vile and cruel as they are for a moment so that balance can be restored somehow. How could this happen? How could they do that to this young girl? Someone who lived and breathed just like me, my mother, my wife, my daughter. Someone who would feel fear and pain and horror just as viscerally as her attackers would. She was a person! How could they not stop? What are these people? How can they be allowed to live? So many stupid impotent questions. But there are also answers, right? “Kill them! Burn them! Cut them!” I chant at the imaginary mobbing in my head. “Restore the balance!”
But despite my best efforts at making this model work I have to concede it just doesn’t work. It’s not the society I want to live in either. This pitchfork society.
Violence is not the counter-balance to violence. It is the same. And now I’m properly the moer in. What then? What is the counter weight? What is the ballast that will tether this giant balloon of hatred that threatens to rise up and obscure the sun forever?
Love is the only answer I can think of. That is the only way to balance all this incredible hate that threatens to infect all of us like a cancer.
Obviously we cannot be expected to extend our precious love to the perpetrators of these crimes but we sure as shit can get it to the people in our own lives. Our mothers, our daughters, our wives. And perhaps most importantly – to our sons.
Yes yes yes, I’m angry and horrified but it doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s left after the dust settles and the blood is washed away.
I wish you a good day. I wish you safety and comfort and satisfaction. I wish you time with those you care about. And as we go off bravely into another day filled with all the shades of good and evil, joy and fear, good and bad – I wish you love. – Louw Venter
*I love you South Africa. Be better.*