This is South Africa baby!

October 6, 2016
3 Things on …. “HOW TO BE HAPPY”
December 8, 2016

We have to stop it, we really do. Please, my fellow South Africans can we stop all the negativity, doom & gloom, complaining, bitching, whining, moaning, criticizing, fault finding and Armageddon predicting.

I have a very sensitive, beautiful daughter whom I noticed wasn’t being her bubbly self recently. When I asked her what was up she just said, “There just seems to be so much negativity-everything is just all negative”.

I can completely relate to this, as I am sure you can. In fact, people who care literally feel, for the plight of other people who are less fortunate or who are going through tough times. Have you ever watched the news and ended up crying? Well that’s not a real stretch for me – I cry during soppy TV ads. And don’t even get me started on the blind, deaf, mute, orphan boy from Magjanistan who walked for 15 days to get an audition for America’s Got Talent and someone hit the Golden buzzer. I feel myself welling up right now.

Seriously, there seems to be a whole bunch of negative stuff happening in our beautiful country but here are a few things I think you should consider.

Bad stuff happens. That’s not a glib statement. Bad stuff has always happened, and it’s just a part of life. As a cop in the early 80’s, I can tell you that crime hasn’t really changed that much. Our crime register used to go into the hundreds every month and on my last check based on the population growth and urbanization, (relatively speaking) it was high and unacceptable then, and it’s pretty much the same now.

Earthquakes have always happened and they will always happen. People will disagree; people will go on strike, and some people will use violence as a method to further their own agendas.

The problems we have now at South African varsity campuses happened during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I know this because I was there (not as a student – I couldn’t afford it – funny that!), I was there dressed in blue and given orders to keep law and order.

If you have lived in this country for any length of time you will know that change is always difficult and we have had our share of changes. If you lived in this country through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s you know what real problems are, compared to that, what we are going through now is a picnic.

How soon we forget bombs in streets and restaurants, daily political murders and if you were not there or if you’ve forgotten, please read The People’s War by Anthea JefferyA book that has pretty much gone unnoticed probably due to its well-researched content.

There was Apartheid, a flat line economy, sanctions, massive riots and stay-away’s. Crime was rampant, we had fuel shortages, floods, droughts (all a lot like today) a bankrupt economy , and Des and Dawn Lindberg (don’t Google them) were actually allowed to sing on the radio. Compared to that and looking at how far we have come, this is cucumber sandwich time baby.

Again, I am not trying to minimize what is happening in any way. Do we have challenges? Yes we do. Are the problems real?  Of-course. But compared to times when interest rates were up to 25%, border wars were happening on almost every front, and an “unofficial” civil war was basically happening. When you look at it from that perspective (and I try to), it’s, well I can’t say good times, but then ain’t now. We have been through tougher times and made it through. Why? Because we are South African and this is still the greatest country in the world. This is South Africa baby!

The difference I see is that in our day (now I officially sound like an old fart), the only way we found out about anything was through strictly controlled radio, and definitely controlled newspapers. Television has been in the world since 1938 yet we as a country only acquired it in about 1975. ‘They’ first had to be able to control what people saw and how they saw it. As a result, bad things that happened we hardly heard about, and when we did, it was structured, selective and sanitized. Imagine that? “Somebody” was trying to control the SABC and what it showed the nation. That could never happen today!

Today we have social media, more radio stations than ever, the Internet, unlimited access to hundreds of news and TV channels from all around the world, and a national broadcaster or as it is known “Faulty Towers”. The media needs to sell advertising; they do this by appealing to our schadenfreude. That’s our ability to secretly take pleasure in the misery of others.

We have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, and a host of other services, where up to 60,000,000 images and video’s are uploaded every hour. You see, not only are we getting bombarded by negativity every day but some of us just cannot help forwarding the negativity onto everyone on there social media contact lists.

Okay now read this with a blocked nose or a slow, Durban chilled-out, surfer-dude voice:

“If I share it, I will get likes which means they like me. I need people to like me because I don’t really like me. My mom says she likes me but, like, she’s my mom and she has to, so that doesn’t really count.”

So, bad news has always been around, there just seems to be more because we have more delivery systems that deliver the negativity directly into our homes, cars, offices and lives, wherever we are.

Because it is so prevalent, it becomes what we focus on and what we focus on will grow.

Are there bad people in the world? Yes. Are they in the majority or the minority? They are without a doubt the minority. But as someone famous once said, “the only thing for bad to prosper is when good men and women do nothing.”

Are good men and woman doing nothing? Hell no! This country is full of good people. Men and women, black and white, coloured, Indian and I think even the green people who wake up every day and make a difference in this fantastic country. The problem is that they don’t report on the fact that over 48 million South Africans (okay and a few million Zimbabweans, Namibians, Nigerians, Congolese, Zambians, Swazis, Americans, British, French, German, Austrian, Scottish, Welsh. You get the point?) Who woke up today, lived in harmony, and for the most part, caused no harm to any other human being. They don’t report that millions and millions of hard-working South African men and woman of all colours went to jobs and made a difference in their company and delivered world-class service for their customers.

Yes we do have companies and people that deliver better than world class service. I should know because I work with a world-class person, I buy cars from Zambesi Auto, my dentist is the great Des Simpson, and Samuel Zikale does my garden.

Did some people drop the ball today? Yes. But that is not what I wish to focus on. Because what you focus on will grow. I choose to focus on the good folks who do their job every day with a certain amount of pride and occasionally they even manage to blow my hair back. And let’s face it; every time someone drops the ball, it creates an opportunity for someone else to pick it up and be more professional and to fill the hole in the market.

There is far more positivity and positive good people in our country than there are negative ones. If you are ever in doubt about the goodness of people, try this next time you see a major disaster on television either local or international. Try not to focus on the victims and the tragedy and the blood and guts. Always look and see how many hundreds, if not thousands of people run towards the victims to help them. Focus on the helpers and you will see our wonderful country at work.

Recently a local radio station raised over 3.8 million rand to send a child, a sick child, to receive life saving medical care in Boston. This is South Africa baby. This is Johannesburg baby.

Is there incompetence in government and local municipality, and are they stealing and misappropriating taxes? No doubt. No question. This is an undeniable, proven fact. Are our municipalities and government officials any different to any other in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia or the Americas? Nope. In fact, in some of these countries they steal so much money that they make our politicians look like amateurs. But in spite of what is stolen and misappropriated, have you stopped and noticed the amount of construction cranes around?

As an economist once said to me after looking at the balance sheet of the country, “no matter what is stolen and misappropriated by far the majority of taxes are spent on our society”. I choose to focus on what is being done, what is being built, what is being fixed and  … cleavage. Because what you focus on ….

Some stuff to do –

Here’s the thing – you don’t really even have to do anything with this one, all you have to do is stop listening to the news. The news will literally pollute your soul. Try not listening to the news for three weeks. Put a news ban on yourself and you will see your health improve, your mind will clear, and you will actually feel lighter.

“But what happens if the world ends?” If the world ends my friend, you will know about it. Stop forwarding negativity on to other people. Especially if you have not witnessed the event yourself, fully investigated the facts of the event, and that you are sure that it is in the public’s interest to know about the event. You should have three gatekeepers for what you say and what you forward or publish.

  • Is it true
  • Is it kind
  • Is it necessary?

Look for people doing things right, and then (I know this is a stretch), tell them! Yes, pay a compliment.

The other day I called a number on a bumper sticker that said, “How is my driving? Call 1800 blah” and when they answered the call I said “Amazing”. Silence.

“Excuse me?”

“You asked how is my driving so I’m calling to tell you it’s amazing! Truck number 23439 has been courteous, legal and safe.”

More silence.

“Please wait for my supervisor.”

Short story long – he said that never in 23 years had he ever received a call like that … how sad? How cool!

I called the supervisor of a Germiston rates office, out of her office to the front service counter, and told her that her staff member Zanele was outstanding, caring and efficient. I asked everyone to ask for her by name to the laughter of all the other staff and waiting customers.

It really doesn’t take much to make a difference. Look for the good, and announce it. Always be good and sell your “goods” and if you don’t have anything positive to say or share, don’t share or say anything at all. If living on social media is your life – please go out and get an actual one.

If you have people who post doom and gloom every day just “un-follow” them. This place called South Africa is our home, it’s all we have, and we have millions of wonderful, kind, hard working people. People like you.

Have a great month and remember – this is South Africa Baby!

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1 Comment

  1. Lalita says:

    What an Awesome article ?

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