On June 16, millions of black South Africans observed the anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising with a nationwide strike. Although technically illegal under the present government-declared state of emergency, the strike was a statement of full-scale black support for the cause of anti-apartheid. Even though the white South African government under both internal and external pressure, is beginning to grant certain concessions to the blacks (such as improved housing, schools, roads, and utilities), still the blacks' underlying frustration continues.
The government recently renewed its state-of-emergency restrictions for a third year. Now President Botha and his generals are embarked on an ambitious plan to keep their control. Known in official circles as the "total strategy," the three-stage campaign is designed first to crush opposition at any cost, then to set about "winning hearts and minds," and ultimately to bring blacks into a power-sharing arrangement that will forestall demands for one-man, one-vote majority rule.
With their total strategy, Botha and his associates may indeed win enough support to forestall for some time the white nightmare of being driven into the sea. But all the examples of history show that no repressive government can remain in power indefinitely. Ultimately the situation reverses, and those who were exploited become the next exploiters.
The problem of interracial strife has long been prevalent. From ancient Vedic history we learn that "To stop quarreling among different peoples. Maharaja Priyavrata marked boundaries at rivers and at the edges of mountains and forests so that no one would trespass upon another's property" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.1.40). Of course, Maharaja Priyavrata is renowned in Indian history as a powerful and saintly king. We don't find anyone of his caliber in power these days. Influenced by greed and envy, leaders encourage their people to trespass on others' property, and passionate strife ensues. And the modern phenomenon of large communities of people shifting to foreign lands in search of economic betterment leads to internal friction within many nations.
If the present situation seems hopeless. there is still chance for a solution, as mentioned by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his purport to the Vedic verse quoted above. "If men want to live in harmony and peace, they must take to Krsna consciousness, for they cannot achieve the highest standard while absorbed in the bodily concept of life."
Because of our deep-rooted identification with our bodies our firm belief that we belong to a certain family, community, and nation we become totally involved in political struggles, which stand on temporary, illusory concepts. When one understands that he is an eternal soul, full of bliss and knowledge, there is no question of his wasting his life for futile political goals. In Teachings of Queen Kunti. Srila Prabhupada explains. "The children in a family all have the right to accept privileges from the father. Similarly, if everyone is part and parcel of God, if everyone is a child of God, then everyone has the right to use the property of the father."
Unfortunately, this axiomatic truth is not perceived by either the South African government or its opposition, and so the bitter struggle continues. Just as two thieves may fight over their haul, the two opposing elements are fighting over a land that does not belong to either of them. It is all the property of God. And just as one son may devise a scheme to control his brother's share of their father's inheritance, similarly Pretoria has its "total strategy" to subdue left-wing opposition.
But the real total strategy is in the hands of the supreme controller, and only a tiny part of the picture is being revealed to the politicians. Ultimately, whether they gain victory or suffer defeat, the only real and lasting victory lies in the hands of those who surrender to the creator of the complete total strategy, for they will conquer over birth and death and become eternally free from fear.