Looking back: We take care of our own

As I played and replayed We take care of our own during the past week – and became thoroughly addicted – I realized with sadness just how applicable the song is to virtually any human situation. Yes, it is very much human nature to take care of our own, often to the disadvantage of others. Through the ages individuals in a position of power have been looking after themselves first, exploiting those under them. While Bruce surely thought of America while writing it, I cannot help but think about my own country when listening to the song. When you move around here you can also be fooled by appearances, as you can be fooled by the music to think of this as an upbeat and positive song. But below the exterior there is much more. Below the surface (and not always below the surface) in South Africa there is a lot of pain. And a great number of people and groups happily taking care of their own, to the utter disadvantage of others, especially the poorest of the poor. Sadly these people are specifically those who claim to fight for the poor and powerless masses, those who were brought into power by the vote of exactly those people they are forgetting now in their pledge to enrich themselves. Yes, the ideals of Nelson Mandela have been largely thrown to the wind … However, there are those who try to take care of others, too. Individuals and organisations working to better the lives of those living on the fringes of society, trying to empower the powerless and bring hope to the hopeless. And that is no easy job. Thanks to Bruce for making us think once again, as always. Even if we don’t like it.

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