by Morongoa Selepe
We recently offered a retreat to Grade 11 and 12 learners form a high school in Soweto. The learners were asked to reflect on what they want. Many of them responded and said they desired a ‘soft life’. They were very hopeful as they shared what they longed for; each time they used the phrase ‘soft life’ the room lit up. I asked other young people, in high school, tertiary institutions and those that have started working, what this term ‘soft life’ means for them.
According to young people ‘soft life’ means the following: 1) financial stability to do what they want, anytime they want; 2) living a stress and struggle free life, enjoying life by exploring one’s desires; 3) the freedom to be what one wants; 4) not having to worry about food, or shelter for the next day; 5) fun life; 6) a life where one is able to meet challenges faced; and 7) success. Someone told me there are levels to soft living: level one is having basic needs met; next level is being able to afford a luxurious lifestyle; and then the next is ensuring that those around you, especially family, can live comfortably as well. These people also indicated that to obtain this ‘soft life’ one must work for it, study hard and be disciplined and consistent.
Young people are faced with many challenges today, challenges that, ten or twenty years ago, were never experienced or were experienced differently due to them not being as vocal or not having the means and spaces to speak up about their challenges. The digital space is one of the places available today to express their challenges and joys. Some misuse this space by displaying the “fake lives” they live, which lead other young people to do questionable things just to get the ‘soft life’. What is portrayed on social media is not a true reflection of their lived experiences.
Listening to young people give meaning to this often-used term ‘soft life’, I would like to suggest that this is what Jesus (John 10:10) was telling us He came for. Living a ‘soft life’ also has a lot to do with one taking responsibility for your actions which will affect your future. St. Ignatius Loyola reminds us that God is always labouring for the world, for us. Once we attain this ‘soft life’ we hope that it may help us get closer to God, to praise, serve and revere Him.
There’s a popular song titled ‘soft life’, the artist is expressing her desire to live a better life and suggest ways to get this. The chorus translated:
Qo Qo Qo Qo Qo (Knock knock)
Sivulele (Please open)
Ningasivaleli ngaphandle (Don’t shut us out)
Nathi sifuna ukuphila isoft life (We, too what the soft life)
Young person, as Mzansi’s future leader, I challenge you: as you set out to create a ‘soft life’ for yourself, guided by the Lord, may you also strive to create a ‘soft life’ for all; remembering Ubuntu “I am because we are”.