Friday, June 20, 2008

Time to Get Your Hopes Up

Hope is a fragile thing these days in South Africa. Can you dare to hope?

Scores have left these shores to craft their lives overseas because their hopes in the future of South Africa had diminished to the point where they could not see a decent lifestyle for themselves or their children in the future. Those that have remained try hard to hope, certainly I do, but every now and then on a rainy day our grasp on the dream seems to weaken.

It's difficult to bring yourself to the point of saying: that's it, this country is doomed and there's nothing we can do. We talk easily of being the next Zimbabwe, but I'd say most of us still cherish a little bit of hope that South Africa might still come out okay.

The problem comes here: do you take risks? Do you buy a house which will take 20 years to pay off? Do you start a multi-million rand business? Do you invest in a pension plan? Do you do anything that could be jeopardised if things went haywire in 15 years time?

The problem is ... the very decision to hedge your bets is what accelerates the downfall. When the good guys keep battling away, the country manages to keep ticking over. To stop trying because you believe there is no hope becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The simple truth is that an effective country and economy depends on the many individuals each playing their part. It doesn't depend ultimately on a government, although government can certainly have a huge influence. South Africa's long-term failure would be partly down to government failure, but it would also be down to those who decided to stop trying.

This is a memo to self: get your spirit up regardless of your circumstances, take managed risks, dare to dream, step out and do what needs to be done, hope eternally.

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