Come kiddies, gather round - aunty Tina is going to tell you all a story... somebody was kind enough to send it to me, and I want to share it with you because it made me think. Pay attention in class, because I will be throwing lollipops at anyone I see sleeping - and there will be questions afterwards.
Once upon a time, a mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.
"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning :
"There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."
The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap . . .. alone.. . ..
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever - with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
But, alas, the farmer's wife did not get well... She died. So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.
And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn't concern you, remember --- When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another."
I would like to use this story to illustrate the story of human rights in South Africa. The mouse could represent any group you like, but obviously it would be a group whose rights are clearly under threat - typically at the moment, it would be us - the Pink Community. And the other farm animals? Well, they could be any other group - presumably groups which are so secure in their own social status that they feel they would never suffer the same fate which threatens to befall the mouse. Actually, the farm animals could also represent the general public - apathetic and disinterested - and the mouse, the people trying to raise the alarm about the threat facing them all. And the Farmer? Well, I think that is open to interpretation, but I would suggest that the farm is a euphemism for the country, and the Farmer is seen as the leader or owner of the farm - so paint any face you like on him... we all have our favorites.
And before you ask, no - this is not a tongue-in-cheek reference to the recent song that made it to the top of South African charts, "kill the boer" by Juliaaas and the Xtremes.
There are many stories or comparisons I have used to illustrate the apathy, disinterest and inaction in South Africa in the past - my favorite was the inscription on the Holocaust Memorial, and the second favorite was the pot of frogs on a slow stove, slowly boiling them to death, but so slowly the frogs did not even notice. I think this little story has just moved to the top of the list. Of course, it pales in comparison to the stark reality of the story which follows - which is, obviously - real.
For years we as human rights activists have been warning of the gradual deterioration of the protections and perceived value of human rights and the Constitutional protections thereof - and for years we have watched apathy and disinterest enable the rise and progress of determined groups - whether conservative or religious fundamentalists - and watched their influence grow.