A Poigant Challenge from Professor Jansen

I love Professor Jonathan Jansen‘s candour in calling a spade a spade. In his latest book “We Need to Act” (and a symbolic follow up to his 2011 book “We Need to Talk“), he lays down a very direct and personal challenge “asking citizens to leave their comfort zones and contribute to righting the wrongs of our society.”

Here are his seven compelling reasons (there always have to be seven!) on why we need to make the move to active citizenship with a sense of urgency:

  1. If ordinary citizens do nothing, we face even greater social instability in the light of stubborn  unemployment and crises in the poorest of schools
  2. If we do nothing we become part of the narrative of hopelessness
  3. Without our action, millions of marginalised people could be doomed
  4. If we do nothing we fail to demonstrate to the next generation how to live full lives
  5. We must serve to compensate for the wrongs of our shared past
  6. We must give back once we have been able to move ahead
  7. We must take our place in the long chain of activists who have over the centuries opposed poverty, illiteracy, government and gangs to give us this tender young democracy to work with

Thanks Bernard to bringing the book to my attention. I am challenged. I hope you are too.

We Need to Act

‘I believe that citizen action is vitally necessary as we come out of the heady days of post-apartheid euphoria.’


  1. Tim Dunne says:

    made a deeply prophetic act as a family for one month. All of us must prophecy where we can. The role of the prophet is to confront the signs of the times. As you have discovered, any act of prophecy can be misinterpreted as evil or insensitve or offensive when people impute their own agendas into their judgments. But your example shines and the privileged are challenged. To those who misinterpret you, pay no heed other than to be even more authentically who you are, and increase the impact of your witness by inspiring other creative compassionate acts of more people. Thnak you for your courage and dedication and especially for responding to abuse with grace.

  2. great thought provoking articles.
    my biggest inspiration is my (late) Dad.
    at the age of 87, he taught Maths to kids in Diepsloot and Cosmo City, because he wanted to give something back.
    he spent his last few years making time every week to inspire teachers and kids there.
    we can all do just 1 thing.

  3. […] would go further and say, though, that after listening well, action does need to be taken. Not necessarily action that is a quick fix for superficial problems that let us go back to our comfy […]

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