Idealism gives way to cynicism

The post-World Cup return to the harsh reality of the past few weeks has been perplexing for anyone who loves and is committed to this country.

quote We must create that binding sense of a national project quote

The questions that beg to be answered arewhy a nation born out of a struggle to achieve lofty ideals could be so overrun by cynical self-interest, frustration, disappointment, anger and fear, and with so much to be grateful for and proud of, why is there so little patriotism and positive sentiment about the country?

To find answers, take a peek into the future by looking at the youth who will take us there. Rather than rebel against parents’ values, the youth usually take those values to the next level.

In the decades leading up to the birth of democracy, the youth were the idealists who pressed the conciliatory, cautious, older generation to take a principled, assertive and less expedient, cynical or hypocritical approach.

It was the youth who pushed adults during the liberation struggle to aggressively claim the moral high ground.

Youth leaders gave most people hope of a better future, based on principles and ideals that would ensure the equitable distribution of good.

By the time the struggle was won, those youth leaders had become the mature, visionary statesmen who took up residence on that hard-won high ground. They promised that what they had sacrificed, lived for and expressed willingness to die for would become the reality of a rainbow nation.

As the older generation passed on or became less noticed, a growing moral vacuumdeveloped. The idealism and values of the past generations have given way to cynical materialism and self-interest.

The overriding objective to which many people seem to be aspiring is maximal appropriation of material advantage.

Madiba expressed values for which he was prepared to die, but the new ethos is characterised by assertions of what people are willing to kill for.

This creates widespread insecurity and fear of a future of being disenfranchised and robbed of all that you haveachieved. It creates a doubt about future and short-term opportunistic thinking.

The challenge we face is to create that binding sense of a national project, based on values and ideals that invite us all to share the responsibility of nation building.

This would create hope for a compelling future that draws us towards it with optimism and courage. It would make sacrifice and tolerating discomfort seem worthwhile.

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