Crisis of Confidence

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!




Crisis of Confidence


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • Marcelle Armstrong

    Thank you Gareth. We are here, in this beautiful part of Africa, most of us, for better or worse. If it’s going to be better, it’s up to us – no, it’s up to me. Your solution might not garner much support or be particularly popular, but it is the best solution….every small act of kindness makes a difference, that generosity of spirit – giving your best self to others….yes….the problems might not go away, but our capacity to smile in the face of it all will increase. Selflessness makes you a bigger person and a happier person.

  • Bruce Quayle

    Well said Gareth.
    I have been privileged to have been able to spend some years sailing (in a small sailboat) to many different countries of this world, and can say with utter confidence that we live in a piece of paradise not found anywhere else.
    Yes, we have corrupt politicians…show me a country that doesn’t!
    Yes, we have poverty…but you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve been to Indonesia and some other seriously third world countries.
    Yes, our economy sucks right now…this is a worldwide issue.
    Damn it…South Africa is populated by some of the nicest people in the world. If only the politicians and media (and some bigoted people one finds all over the world) would stop using the words “black” and “white” we could all get on with our lives and make this an even better place to bring up our beautiful children.
    Start really appreciating this country! …the grass is NOT greener elsewhere.

  • Cliff de Meillon

    Vasbyt might be all good and well but looking from a distance now, politics is by far not the only problem. Reading threads on social media leads one to believe that the ruling party is only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe it has all been an illusion, can Africa live under westernized ideology.. the so called “american dream”?? I tend to think the African revolution does not include you Gareth or myself to say the least. Is that okay, time will tell.