Optimism, Encouragement and Hope
There are three phenomena worse and more dangerous than crime, corruption and power cuts. They have a more pervasive negative effect on quality of life and on the nation as a whole than these three awful realties. The three phenomena are cynicism, pessimism and despair! It would seem that lately, conversations, comments and jokes have become more saturated than ever with these corrosive qualities. The effect of allowing these themes to dominate is that eventually they become the only reality and all other possibilities cease to exist. They eclipse history, worse hardships in other places in the world, and the lives around us that can serve to remind us that our circumstances are not the worst. We forget the good, inspiring and miraculous aspects of our society. We lose sight of the good that we could be creating for ourselves and others, finding new solutions, more wisdom, maturity and creativity that could help us to rise to the challenges and become greater human beings rather than victims. Something that I consistently find astounding when I travel is how many ex-South Africans want to make appointments to speak to me about the pain of emigration and their thoughts of returning. No one can tell anybody else what they should do or what choices to make in life and more especially which country they should choose to live in. All that I am saying is that these encounters have taught me that whatever road you chose to take you can be sure that destiny will meet you on the other side. In reality, there is a limit to how much we can actually control in our lives with regard to our material circumstances. History shows that we most certainly cannot control the future no matter how much we reassure ourselves that we can choose a better future by choosing another place. It would seem to me that because people today are exposed to options like never before in history, they are vulnerable to ambivalence wherever they are. Privilege affords one the illusion that we can maximise good for ourselves and avoid bad just by moving to the place that will allow us that. It seems to me that this ideal place exists only in unfettered imagination. The path to contentment and a positively fulfilling life requires only a change in our mental approach. This involves simply being adamant about and proactive in keeping alive and spreading hope, optimism and encouragement. Even when you do not feel it, talk these ideals to others and they will soon inspire you with their stories about how they have honoured these values. Honour these values and you will be numbered amongst the builders of the world.