What is the word for the admiration we feel towards other culture’s traditions, languages, music, dance, business sense, entrepreneurial spirit, traditional wisdom, sporting ability, physical beauty etc? I experience that kind of admiration for other cultures fairly often. It is something that I’m sure each of us experiences regularly, so why don’t we have a word for it?
We have infinite capacity to be fascinated with and to love the differences we see in each other. If you observe the influence of cultures upon each other you can see how much we have all gained from our interactions. African, European and Asian music and dance, “Eastern” meditation, yoga, Karate etc, have made all our lives richer and our minds broader. We’ve integrated those traditions into our cultures because we admire and respect them. What do we call that love, admiration and respect for other races and cultures?
I guess the fact that we don’t have a specific word for that kind of love tells you something about human nature: We tend to dwell on the negative….So much so that we don’t even have a word to describe the love we have for each others races and cultures, and yet we see the word “racism” everywhere, every day. True, this world has an horrific history of war, oppression and genocide, but there are many stories of love to be told too.
They say love has no bounds, and South Africa is a perfect example of this. My great grandfather was a British soldier during the Boer war, and my grandmother was a Boer prisoner in a British concentration camp. They fell in love through the barbed wire fence of the camp he was guarding and, to the great consternation of her family, after the war they married.
South Africa is full of stories like that. Long before Europeans arrived 350 years ago, people fell in love across tribal boundaries even through wars and genocide. I’ve been told that the isiXhosa language got its distinctive clicking sound from the Khoisan language. Anyone who has doubts about our interracial past should visit Cape Town, and admire our beautiful people blended from many diverse cultures and ancestory.
People fell in love with each other across colour lines even through the time of Apartheid where people were thrown in jail for transgressing the “Immorality Act”. When I was a young boy my parents took me to visit a friend of my father who grew up classified “European” but had fallen in love with an “Indian” woman. Because it was illegal for them to love each other, he somehow managed to get himself reclassified as a “coloured” person so that they could marry and he could live with her in her area.
These stories of love define who we are as a nation just as much as the stories of evil define us. The majority of South Africans are good people. You only have to see young children playing together to know that no-one is born hating another person because of their skin colour. Racism is not our natural state. We can’t afford to let it define who we are. But racism does clearly exist, and it will define us until we uproot it and discard it.
There is nothing that perpetuates and epitomises our systemic racism more than the inherent salary gap in SA companies. It averages around 300 to 1 currently. The income gap is behind our growing inequality and all the social ills that come with that inequality.
Statistics from the World Bank and the UN show, when comparing developed countries, that there is a direct and undeniable correlation between higher inequality within a country and higher levels of social problems.
These statistics show that countries with greater inequality, regardless of average wealth or GDP per capita, show lower life expectancy, lower math’s and language grades, lower levels of trust within communities and social mobility, and higher levels of infant mortality, rape, homicide, imprisonment, high school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, obesity, mental illness (including drug and alcohol addiction), and many other social ills than more equal countries!
Greater inequality also leads to less representative democracies and in turn even greater inequality, because governments are often persuaded through corruption and party election funding to pursue policies which benefit the rich elite and large corporations at the expense of the poor majority. The poorer the masses become compared to the elite, the less influence they have on their government.
The cost of our ever increasing inequality in South Africa is clear: Hundreds of billions lost in recent strike action, increased borrowing costs because of our ratings downgrades (uncertainty caused by inequality and industrial unrest leads to lack of investment in business and growth), crime, violence, drug problems, racial animosity, poor education, loss of investor confidence due to the unrest, the damage to South Africa’s image etc.
Our growing inequality is simply unsustainable, and simple mathematics shows that inequality can’t decrease while income inequalities increase. Income inequality in South Africa has been rising steadily over the last 20 years despite the end of apartheid and despite the implementation of race-based affirmative action policies. We have simply not addressed the underlying cause of income inequality: the irresponsible manner in which salaries are decided. The salary gap is not caused by “market forces”. The salary gap is a choice. We can change it.
Without such extreme income inequality, systematic racism would not be able to exist. If you really want to change the legacy of racism, and live in a safer, happier and more prosperous nation then please read about the many benefits of salary gap moderation, and then join the Responsible Market Foundation.
I started the Responsible Market Foundation in 2015 to raise awareness of the benefits of salary-gap-moderation and to incentivise salary-gap-moderation (SGM) as a means to reduce income inequality and to bring about more freedom, prosperity, respect, trust and non-racialism.
The Responsible Market Foundation works to create a network of members, raising support and consensus amongst prominent business leaders, economists, academics, worker’s unions, politicians, opinion makers and celebrities regarding the need for salary-gap-moderation. The RMF will also commission advertisements, films and journalism promoting the benefits of salary-gap-moderation.
Please help to spread the word about the benefits of salary gap moderation. Feel free to support us by joining responsiblemarketfoundation.com and liking and following the Responsible Market Foundation on Facebook and Twitter @FoundationRMF.
And please implement salary gap moderation in your businesses today.