Balancing stability and change | Politics in Focus

All of us struggle between the desire for stability and the desire for change. Some favor stability and order above all else. Others are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to improve conditions for themselves and/or others.

All of us struggle between the desire for stability and the desire for change. Some favor stability and order above all else. Others are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to improve conditions for themselves and/or others.

I write to you from the home of my daughter Betsy and her family in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, where I see these two forces at work.

Recently, Betsy and her family took us on a tour of the Champagne Valley in the Drakensberg Mountains. We were mainly among whites who were on holiday, since it’s early summer here. The area is beautiful and green with luxury resorts, dams and spectacular views of the mountains and fine buildings. These people enjoy their stability because, for them, life is good.

Nearby Loskop, a Zulu community of about 50,000, has a 40 percent AIDS infection rate. Poverty is endemic. Until recently, few had electricity and running water usually comes from a faucet outside among the houses. There is little furniture in their homes. They live in small mud huts. There is no way most Zulus will ever be able to afford to take advantage of those resorts except, perhaps, as employees. South Africa has the greatest income disparity in the world. This is the “stability” that these blacks encounter.

Betsy, with the help of local Christians, aid from the U.S. donations and nonprofit contributions, now pays salaries to 20 full-time, home-based care workers (who make $150 a month), a few part-timers and a part-time nurse to care for their physical needs, a pastor to minister to their spiritual needs and a full-time social worker/manager. They care for about 500 AIDS patients and orphans. For these people, change comes in fits and starts.

The contrast between the rich, primarily white world and the poor blacks is stark. Since I come from the West, I’m more comfortable with the white stability, but when I see the endemic poverty and suffering, I wish for even half that stability for the blacks.

Nelson Mandela was recently buried in the Eastern Cape, about 900 miles to the west of where I am writing this. He was one of those few great leaders the world gets every generation or two. Today we will visit the place where Mandela was captured. We will spend Christmas near Cape Town. We will also visit where Mandela lived after he became the president of the Republic of South Africa.  Mandela was a change agent who also brought greater stability to the lives of blacks, Asians and coloureds, without taking away the financial stability of the whites, a remarkable accomplishment.

One reason I travel is so I can shake myself out of the comparably stable world in which I live and to remind myself that on a personal level others are not as fortunate as I. Being reminded of that challenges my complacency. It reminds me that for the privileged few, change is necessary to bring stability to the many who suffer poverty and want.

Why not have “life is good for all,” not just the privileged few?


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Opinion

Ray Miller-Still
Stick to your morals, even if you feel icky

I celebrate Powell’s Bookstore’s decision to keep an unpopular book on its shelves.

Rich Elfers, "In Focus"
Trump’s final days in office | In Focus

Will the Senate vote to convict the former president? I think not.

Julie Reece-DeMarco, "Finding Kind"
Gum and finding the high road | Finding Kind

Finding the high road isn’t always easy — but it is rewarding.

LtE bug
A day to celebrate first responders, medical field workers

Let’s write to Inslee to get this started.

Rich Elfers, "In Focus"
Lessons learned from the attempted coup of January 6, 2021

Words matter, and Republicans are more interested in staying in power than protecting the Constitution.

LtE bug
I’m very impressed with Enumclaw’s youth

Thanks to the local sixth graders who were Secret Santas for seniors during the pandemic!

Daisy Devine, "The Thing About Hope"
Don’t forget the growing asylum crisis | The Thing About Hope

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

LtE bug
Naming those who die by suicide or overdose

It’s best not to keep people wondering.

Most Read