A tough piece to write, but I feel that as a country we are at a tipping point and one that may be very hard to come back from if we are not honest about the need to right the ship.
I am a young South African.
Someone with an immense amount of energy and passion to help create a country that we can all be proud of. However when I see the president stand in front of a nation, clearly tired, and pleading with us all to pull together to get through the challenges that lie ahead in the immediate future I am deeply concerned.
Yes, ultimately the buck does stop with him. Leadership is a lonely place. But do we realise how deep the problems in South African society run? This is not a problem that is just surface level deep and one that we can try to solve through big court cases and prosecutions. It is a problem that is so engrained in our society that if we do not act to take serious steps to remove it, I fear the consequences will be orders of magnitude worse than they are now.
As I write this, we have been in lock down for close to 500 days. Flip that’s a long time and the world as we once knew it has changed forever. I am not going to go into the figures and specific details surrounding the negative impact COVID has had on the South African economy. You can go Google this if you really want to, but my focus here is to try appeal to us all as people.
While we cannot put the anger, glaring theft (I will not refer to it as corruption because it is so blatant), and mismanagement aside. I want us to try to tap into the heart of what it means to be South African. We know we are capable of great things and if we can somehow manage to find this spirit I think we have a hope of writing a chapter in history that will be known for determination and humility.
I was going to include a piece from Cry the beloved country, but decided to remove it as we are dealing with our own crisis.
The concept of sunk costs is one that you may be familiar with, if you’re not in simple terms it refers to a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. I was reflecting to a friend today that younger generations have not gone through a period or moment like this in our life time where we have had to deal with such dramatic change that we had very little direct control over.
The words from Epictetus “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matter”, stand out to me when I think about the energy I need to draw on and create to get through this.
Rather than trying to be optimistic, I am not going to try sugar coat things because this would not be fair or honest. South Africa, is not in a good place.
I have energy to give, but the longer the current state of affairs goes on the harder it becomes to keep recharging the energy reserves to give it another go. I encourage us to use the energy that we have left in this current tank to help better the state of our country and the people who need it most. It will not fix itself, it requires each and every one of us. It is also not something that will happen overnight, but in order to start the wheels of change we need every piece of incremental change we can get.