Another exciting week in South Africa, right?
I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong. We’re not the most messed up country on earth. Sure, we’re up there with the basket-cases, but we’re nowhere near as bad as Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan or even Kenya (and who thought Kenya would go backwards?). I’m not trying to compare us with the obviously bad only – Trump’s America is hardly serene and secure.
I had a crisis of confidence last week, exactly one week before parliament had to consider its confidence in the President. I went on the air and ranted about how I’ve had enough and how I just want to get away, go somewhere else and start again. I was frustrated, angry and probably a little bit depressed. I suspect I’m not the only one. With the benefit of a cooling-off period, I’m back to my stupidly optimistic, invulnerable self. Some people will say I’d be better served by my negativity and cynicism – they might be right, but that’s not me.
We’re embroiled in a lot of unconstructive conversations in South Africa. The DA want to dissolve parliament; the ANC is falling apart; there are race-baiters and slacktivists in every dark corner of the internet and society. We need to get back to basics, tip our baggage into the rubbish bin and start again, with respect. People who are stressed tend to look inward, not out. They tend to become self-absorbed, self-pitying and unpleasant. That’s where we’re headed unless we make a change. I’m not going from unconstructive to outright destructive; there’s only desolation and loneliness there. I want you to join me, and not in some fake patriotic, low-expectation, motivational speaker way – but in making a simple decision.
Ask yourself this: Do you want tomorrow to be better than yesterday? There’s really only one answer and all it requires is the application of the golden rule and energy. The golden rule, as we know from Buddha, Confucius and Jesus is that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In practice that means greeting people, being polite and friendly, making an effort to listen and opening up. It’s really not hard – just imagine everyone you meet is a first date you’d like to impress.
The second requirement, energy, is harder to muster – but it can be done. Everyone is different, but I suspect if you really want something, you’ll be able to power yourself up to get it done. The alternative is to let the negativity pull you down, and that would be utterly shit.
There’s an Afrikaans word that doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but it means ‘persevere’ – VASBYT. That’s what we need to do. I keep telling people who ask me about our political situation that things had to get a lot worse before they’d start getting better. That’s true for our country, but it’s also true for me – and for you!