DM168

REFLECTION 168

Saffas like nothing more than winning (and whining)

What if we tried to change those well-trodden neural pathways in our brain that have become like roads of complaint and negative thinking? What if we allowed the grass to cover those paths and made new paths of love, joy and compassion? (Photo: Gallo Images / Franco Megannon)
By Anso Thom
26 Jan 2021 0

What if South Africans moaned less and mobilised and organised more? I am very aware of the many, many people doing exactly that, but what if more of us moaned less and organised more?

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

There is nothing that makes this country happier than winning something – whether it is to host a soccer world cup, win the African Cup of Nations, win the Rugby World Cup, medals at Olympic Games and so on.

You know what else we are probably best at, gold medal, big trophy winners? Moaning. Jislaaik, we can moan.

Scientists: There is a new virus emerging and it is turning into a pandemic that is going to kill hundreds of thousands.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing?

Researchers: If we want to avoid a massive number of people getting infected and dying we need to wear masks, practise physical distancing from others and wash or sanitise our hands.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing? This government is doing nothing; Cyril doesn’t talk to us.

Cyril Ramaphosa: Please behave, wear your masks, wash your hands, don’t gather in large groups and do not drink too much.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing?

Cyril Ramaphosa: Please behave, wear your masks, wash your hands, don’t gather in large groups and do not drink too much.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing?

Doctors and nurses: We are not coping with the high number of trauma cases, most of them related to alcohol abuse.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing?

Cyril Ramaphosa: Please don’t drink too much. I am not allowing you to buy alcohol over weekends.

South Africa: Moan. What is the government doing?

Health workers: The trauma cases are not decreasing.

South Africa: Moan. The health system is collapsing.

Cyril Ramaphosa: We are stopping the sale of liquor.

South Africa: Moan. Complain. Moan.

What if we just stopped for a moment and focused on what is good, what we can do to help make things better, what we can do in our small circle to get things on an even keel?

Activists have a wonderful motto: “Don’t moan, organise.”

What if South Africans moaned less and mobilised and organised more? I am very aware of the many, many people doing exactly that, but what if more of us moaned less and organised more?

What if we criticised the government and held them to account, as we must, but made absolutely sure that before we did so, we have done our part.

To moan less, we have to become more civic-minded, to make it less about me and more about my fellow human – and what I can do to help.

I am not advocating that we deny the reality of what we are currently facing, but newly minted US President Joe Biden’s words from his inauguration are still ringing my ears as I write this column.

Here is some of what he said:

“Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis.

“Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested.

“Are we going to step up? All of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you: We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. Will we rise to the occasion is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children?

“I believe we must. I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will. And when we do, we’ll write the next great chapter in the history of America. The American story.

“[I will] keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power, but of possibilities; not of personal interest, but the public good.

“And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness.

“May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived.”

What if we replaced his references to America with “South Africa” and made it our personal oath? What if we tried to change those well-trodden neural pathways in our brain that have become like roads of complaint and negative thinking? What if we allowed the grass to cover those paths and made new paths of love, joy and compassion?

I, for one, could organise behind this. How about you? DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.

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