South Africa and it’s Optimism paradox – the gap between private hope and public despair.

The month of September normally brings with it a sense of joy, a new beginning and renewed optimism, but in 2019 it was quite the opposite.  Last week marked one of the most challenging and emotional weeks South Africans had to endure in a long time, with xenophobic attacks and violence against women and children making the headlines.

Now as a patriotic optimist I was trying to find a small piece of light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope hiding in between the all the #shutdownSA and #enoughisenough social media posts, but to now avail.

I got frustrated and even started to comment on some of these posts(something I never do) from people I know or have met before.  I asked them, in a respectful manor what their aim and objective with this specific post was.

See I don’t mind conflict or arguing, if and only if you have a good intention in mind and want to find a solution – I always tell my colleagues that they should never shy away from pointing out a problem, but they can only do so if they have a possible solution or plan in mind. Perhaps I’m wrong but where will posts like “The newly elected government are complete @#$%&” or “the 3.1% growth in the 2nd quarter are complete B#lls@!t, we will not be fooled!”  or “All men are evil” get us?

Now I’m not for one second denying that we are facing challenges in SA and something needs to be done.  There is no excuse to touch a woman, violently or inappropriately and if you cross the line, deliberate action needs to be taken.  And to violently attack a person who is working hard to earn a living, just because he is from another country is inexcusable.

But we all know this, don’t we?

But it is easier to rather stand around the water cooler (or vent on Facebook) pointing out the problems and waiting for someone else to fix it than to take action.  We blame OUR government and wait for THEM. We feel that South Africa is doomed and feel ashamed of our country(while the US and UK sit with a whole host of issues of their own) .

The term “Solutionist Thinking” was again used by Bruce Whitfield on the 702’s The Money show and brought to light the glimmer of hope I was looking for, the glimpse of a silver lining.

We as South Africans are tough and resilient.  Almost all of us are willing to fight and stand up for what is wrong, we have done so in the past and we will do it again.

On Wednesday the 4th of September, Women and men alike marched to parliament in Cape Town demanding action to be taken by our government and specifically Cyril Ramaphosa, and he obliged.  Stating that no parole or bail will be granted to any rapists and they will get life imprisonment.  The previous time we as South Africans marched together was to get rid of our corrupt president and we ended up being successful in that instance as well.

A journalist once made a great statement which I tend to agree with; he said that should there be another worldwide recession or even depression, he would choose to be in Africa and specifically South Africa.  The people here are used to adversity and tough conditions and having to make a plan in order to survive.  They will not lie down and they are born with a fighting spirit.

This also correlates with my colleagues’ words upon his return from London England; “The people there have it so easy and they live in such a way as to show they do not need God” .

The Optimism Paradox

One pioneer who certainly rather elects to take action rather than just to state depressing facts is Discovery’s CEO, Adrian Gore.  He recently wrote a letter to the World Economic Forum on the relevancy and state of SA.

I urge ALL South Africans to read it here   and I would like to quote a part of it:

“ What blinds us further from recognising our progress is a myopic obsession with the problem of the day. Pre-2005, the issue was HIV/AIDS. Then we experienced crime in the early 2000s; followed by xenophobia in 2008, and the Eskom power crisis and labour unrest thereafter. In the past two years – #FeesMustFall, state capture and land expropriation have occupied the public’s attention as issues signalling our impending demise. But the fact that these problems change shows that they cannot be intractable. They are all tragic and need to be solved. But we have the ability to gain traction on them, albeit at times in a messy way.”

Another person who is willing to stick his neck out, be unpopular and who chooses to stay optimistic is JP Landman.  He recently wrote an article stating the various facts we often choose to ignore.

It’s not all doom and gloom. How the Ramaphosa presidency is reclaiming the state

Read his piece, apply some solutionist thinking, take some action and then, only then continue with your defamation – should you wish.

Geo Botha CFP® Hons.

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