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The month of love has become the month of horrors

Khaya Dlanga

We should refuse to be discouraged by the ugliness, the mean-spiritedness and the hopelessness that seems to surround us, writes Khaya Dlanga.

Reeva Steenkamp with Oscar Pistorius. (Reuters)

Few things are as seductive as bad news. Out of sheer disbelief we find it near impossible to look away. The more horrific, the longer our gaze. Who needs fiction when it manifests itself as reality on a daily basis? The news is like a magnet and our eyes are drawn to it like steel.

The offensive nature of such news is tantalising. We are the drivers passing an accident who cannot avert our eyes from the horrible. There has been enough of it to make one lose hope in humanity. To paraphrase Indian writer Arundhati Roy, worse things have happened and worse things keep happening.

Disenchantment from the world is seen as a sign of sobriety. But how can we remain detached? I should also not see the glass as half full because, let's face it, people want to see bad news in the papers. Newspaper sales skyrocket when the news disturbs them, not when it makes them happy.

So it is fashionable to be cynical when it comes to the subject of love. I have the unfortunate curse of being unable to turn off the love switch and optimism juice. I believed in love ever since I can remember. I cannot recall a single point in my life where I was not optimistic and a passionate believer in love. So do excuse me while I journey through this valley of lovely wonderful cheese because we could all do with a little love and optimism in these times.

Even the cynic secretly longs and hopes that he is wrong, even though he hopes against having hope. His cynicism is merely a defence mechanism to protect him from disappointment when bad things happen. It is not that he longs for them to happen. He just hates being disappointed more than he imagined.

This year's month of love turned out to be a month of horror. It visited our imaginations, conversations and corridor talk. We remembered that sometimes terror walks with us, hugs us, kisses us and even sleeps with us. It is, of course, extremely ironic that this month would be the reminder that terror lives with us – especially women. The rape of Anene Booysen and death of Reeva Steenkamp brought our attention to this.

Love has no injurious intentions against us. We often think that we are shielding ourselves from pain by distancing ourselves from love but in reality we are just protecting ourselves from people. There are some who say they do not want to love again. Yet people need to love and to be loved, they just do not want to be hurt again.

Perhaps the greatest injury we inflict on ourselves is denying ourselves love.  

To quote Kanye West a few weeks back: "A-holes deserve to be lonely." I don't believe that people go into a relationship with the intention to hurt but rather with the intention to love and be loved in return. It all goes horribly wrong when we start making a relationship selfish. When everything is my way or the highway. This is how so many men hurt women. "If we cannot agree, I'm stronger. My strength will force you to agree with me or make you do what I want." It is the hallmark of the terror we have seen these past few weeks. All about what one person wants, forgetting that a relationship is about two people. If you are President Jacob Zuma, it would be between five.

The horrors of the past few weeks demonstrated that love is becoming a foreign notion to many. Yet we all know that our country is not in complete despair. We should refuse to be discouraged by the ugliness, the mean-spiritedness and the hopelessness that seems to surround us.

We should spread the love, not the vile virus of violence and hate. Even the smallest light is visible in the darkness. It is in times like this that each and every one of us should shine their light to defeat the darkness.

Let us cease to keep our beautiful loving lights hidden. Your light has much to contribute to the country. Light it up.


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