When a storm has abated, and we see the destruction and havoc it caused, our instinct is to “put things right.”

An example would be the recent fire in Masiphumele that destroyed more than 1000 “shacks,” leaving 5000 people homeless. The easiest way to deal with the destruction is to rebuild those “shacks.” The Government will always say it is temporary placements, but temporary inevitably leads to permanence!

Our habit of building a bridge is to construct the bridge with the same materials that are incapable of withstanding storms. All Governments have disaster relief funds, and those funds are meant to be used in the event of a disaster. 

What is concerning is the almost “natural,” instinct to “keep people in their place!” It’s worrying that we expect undying gratitude for the newer “shack,” that the “victims of the fire” are presented with!

Some people, (often racists), will shout, “Those people should be grateful,” and I strongly disagree.

If gratitude was a winning formula for success, poverty-stricken black and brown people would be successful beyond measure. It’s not about “gratitude” though but about righting what is wrong.

Imagine if those victims were instead given land to build their houses as everyone does?

When do we uplift people who have been marginalized?

Is it the Government’s duty to uplift its poor citizens without thinking about how they got there?

Is this merely an easy way out of a problem that white people want to wish away?

To simplify it, I want you, the reader to think about a pair of shoes you lost. How wonderful would it be if you were then given 2 or more pairs of shoes and in that way you’re able to have the shoes for longer?

Too often we think that building a bridge over our troubles will make it go away! We never stop to first clear the debris left by the storm, we don’t make the underlying rocks more secure for the future, and we seem hell-bent on maintaining the rickety structured bridge that failed to withstand the storm.

And like a hamster stuck in a cage, our failure as humans, to look beneath the surface, is what makes us go around in circles, achieving very little.

The bridge over troubled waters is both real and a metaphor for always wanting to place new plasters or bandages over an old wound. While we sit back in the hope that the “wound” will heal itself, or that the somehow the “bandage” covering it, holds some mystical medicine that will heal the wound.

To effect change, we need to get our hands dirty and dig beneath the surface,  before covering it to “look good.” 

The temporary fixtures have never helped and have worsened the initial damage.

A beautiful mansion is incapable of withstanding a hurricane if its foundation is shaky and built with inferior materials.

A bridge built over troubled waters is a delusion that all is well until the waters rise again.