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When we refer to refugees, victims, squatters, the aged, the poor, the disabled, it enables us to avoid seeing people as the unique individuals they are.
We can escape the emotions and sense of responsibility we feel about those we are close to - our parents, children, friends and relatives. The respect and love we accord those we are close to is frequently easily discarded as we treat the rest of the world with contempt while appeasing our consciences with occasional good deeds and handouts that are hopefully tax deductible.
At home we try and teach our children to be honest, moral and good citizens. We go to church, mosque, synagogue and other religious institutions where we do our bit for the poor and suffering. We are seen to be upstanding members of society.
We go to work and the rules change. Increasingly, our principles are left behind as we exit our front doors. The business world is harsh and competitive. You either play by business rules or you are excluded. This is not unique to South Africa, it is also not a new phenomenon.