Don’t let your selfishness ruin the Christmas spirit for everyone

The armchair critics had a field day this week. George Orwell once proclaimed all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Here in South Africa, it’s the beaches. The tin foil hats and deep-staters are convinced this is WMC at play – or maybe it’s RET, because the problem with these lobbies is that the membership differs depending on whose Christmas present is being played with.

That’s right, Uncle Cyril held a family meeting this week. He’s looking tired. It’s been a kak year for most of us, him included. If Santa’s handing out gifts for patience next Friday, the president should find one in his Christmas stocking at the same time as Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

We’re in the teeth of the second wave of COVID infections, but many South Africans simply don’t give a fuck – unless you touch them on their beaches. Some want all beaches closed for the duration, others want them open – even the Garden Route despite the fact that it’s the current epicentre of the second wave.

The tin foil hat brigade has been quick to find loopholes (get a fishing permit, apparently), while the haters cried double standards, railing against the closure of the Eastern Cape (and Garden Route) while beaches in other provinces remain mostly open, except for the really high days and holy of the festive season.

As usual opinions trumped facts. Many conveniently ignored that it had been the Premier of the Eastern Cape who’d asked Ramaphosa to close his beaches, while others had fought tooth and nail to keep theirs open. But it’s the president’s fault. Why? Because we say so. Perhaps the only glimmer of light has been that Carl Niehaus hasn’t felt moved to share his opinion.

In other news, bottle stores have had their hours truncated, as have bars and restaurants, but otherwise it’s business as usual. Oh yes, and now you can’t drink on beaches – at least until January when the regulations will be reviewed. But here’s the rub, we were never supposed to drink on beaches or parks – municipal by laws outlawed it. It’s a crime too to be drunk in public.

Why did it take COVID 19 to get us here? Open water and booze don’t mix any more than the open road and booze – as lifesavers and paramedics alike will tell anyone who cares to listen. We are now officially in end of the year holiday mode; it’s the season of goodwill. So, why don’t we practise that by doing what we’re told – not to keep the authorities happy, but to actually protect the lives of those nearest and dearest to us and our neighbours too?

Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. Don’t get drunk, stupid and abusive. And – if you can – spare a thought and whatever you can afford to those less fortunate. That’s the proper Christmas spirit, not ruining it for everyone else through selfishness. Let’s do Christmas differently this year. That way maybe we can have the best possible 2021.

Originally published on 19 December 2020 in the Saturday Star