The rising electricity prises in South Africa is costing me. Money. Twitter user talk about it. It’s in papers. And I’m getting emails every now and again about some petition I have to sign to stop Eskom from razing the prises. My response is always some table of electricity prises showing Eskom prises before the prise rise started. Everybody complains about the cost. And everybody complains about their CO2 output. But few seem to put together that a reduction in CO2 usage will be costing us money. And no one seem to welcome the prise rise as a possible means of reducing CO2, since this might be forcing people to use less electricity in South Africa. And no one seem to talk about what electricity actually should cost in South Africa if the cost to the ecology is taken into account.

South Africa has one of the highest CO2 per person outputs, meaning that my own community of suburban, upper-class, highly mobile, professional people might be the most CO2 intensive people-group in world (I have no proof!). I think it was someone in 11th Hour who talked about ancient rays of sunlight. The energy we use, coal, oil, or whatever, that was made over centuries, millenia, of sunlight, the only large energy source we have. And we are using it at a rate much faster than it is being made.

So we need to work with the energy as it’s being created real-time. Stop complaining about Eskom prises. It’s gonna cost money to stop or reduce your usage of these ancient rays of sunlight. Are we willing to go the ecological route if it’s gonna change our lifestyles? And it’s gonna. For the community in which I live it’s gonna. We will have to start using public transport, live in smaller homes, drive smaller cars, drive less, change our diets, eat less meat especially. Eskom’s raising prices should not bother you. If they made mistakes, let that bother you. But on this year’s Blog Action Day what should bother you is the fact that they aren’t calculating the cost to nature into you’re electrical bill.

I live in South Africa. I drive by beggar at everyrobot in the eastern side of Pretoria. This is reality. As one of my American friends who recently moved here said: “I can’t give to everyone”. I can’t. Yeah, mother Theresa did say that if you can’t feed a hundred, then feed one, and yes, she did know about poverty. My reality might be what causes me to write something which might not be expected from your typical 1984-born liberal…

I have high hopes for the world. I think that better alternatives than our current Capitalist system must be found. I think this would help a lot of people. But my South African reality tells me that many don’t want our help. The sickness of poverty, as we sometimes talk about round here, causes people to become victims of themselves, and then wait upon the world to get them out of poverty. A big business-man and committed Christian in our congregation told us the other day that he started giving out business cards to beggars on the streets, telling them to send him a CV, cause he has a job for them. He must have given out 1000 cards by now (as I said, there is a lot of beggars round here), and not one came back to him.

Sometimes I just wanna give a R5 coin, sometimes I do. Sometimes I feel better, most of the times I remember my social worker friend from the inner-city, who does amazing things with the poor, telling me that the one thing you never so, is give out money.

The reality of poverty is that sometimes it is not about a lack of money! Sometimes it’s about a lack of self-respect, a lack passion for change. Money will be needed to change this around, but money will not be enough. It will be about relations with the poor… and don’t forget the kids! Never forget the kids! One by one we will need to help these kids rise out of their circumstances before it’s too late. Before the sickness hits them too. Remember that every kid that grows up with the idea that the reality of poverty can’t be changed, and that (s)he might as well keep on living this way, becomes another adult who carries the sickness forward.

So, I’m not saying that the reality of poverty won’t be changes. Just that it’s gonna be much more difficult than pushing money towards the South. It is calling us to change a culture, both the consumerist culture of the West, the culture in which we lock ourselves behind high walls to keep the poor out of our lives, as well as the culture of the poor, who prefer not taking responsibility for life… there is hope, there is points of light where for some poverty is just the lack of money, maybe we can start by changing things for them as well.