Sun, 15 Dec 2019

There's more to be thankful for than we think

News24
19 Nov 2019, 22:14 GMT+10

Sometimes I don't know whether I should laugh or cry, and sometimes I cry when I laugh.

I am a 57-year-old, pale-skinned (white) African male. I was born in South Africa and I will die in South Africa. This is the only country on the planet that truly feels like home to me.

Yes, my parents may have immigrated to South Africa (from Holland) in the 1950s, but I had no say in that matter. And yes, unknowingly (and without any extra effort from me) I was most certainly advantaged by the morally unjust system of Apartheid.

However, my (caring and loving) parents also taught me a few other very important lessons about life, and I will forever be thankful to them for that. Not only did they teach me about kindness, empathy and unconditional love, but they also made it very clear to me that if I didn't pull up my own socks (a metaphor implying self-improvement), then I probably wouldn't ever be successful at anything.

They said something along the lines of... "You are the only person who could ever be in control of your life. You should never be relying on (or passing-the-blame-to) anyone else for your happiness (or unhappiness). If you feel that your life sucks... well then... you are mostly-likely responsible for that".

If you think about it, everyone alive today has something "legitimate" to complain about. Of course some people have more valid reasons to complain than other people do, but everyone has an equal right to be unhappy about something. The poorest of the poor will most likely be crying for access to food and shelter, while the richest of the rich might be in a fit of rage because someone (deliberately?) scratched the paintwork on their new multimillion-dollar yacht. Although this particular comparison might seem completely ridiculous to some people, it wouldn't surprise me to hear that the yacht-owner was feeling much more enraged than the starving peasant, who was probably already feeling too despondent to be feeling angry anymore?

The point that I'm trying to make is that everyone's life sucks at least a little bit, and that everyone has the right to be angry about something. It's how we deal with the suckiness and anger that makes all the difference to the quality of our lives. We could just sit-back and complain about things until nobody is prepared to listen to us anymore. Then we could complain louder, and organise strikes and protests (and then go and burn and destroy other people's stuff)... because we all have the right to be unhappy and/or angry about something, right!? Or we could get off our bums (and soapboxes) and actually do something constructive to improve our lives?

If you still have all your fingers and toes and you're still in a good state of physical (and mental) health, well then you are a lot more advantaged than many other people in this country... and you should be feeling very thankful for that. I firmly believe that anyone who truly wants to work will be able to find a job and earn a decent living (including the disabled). But working hard (and not earning much) is difficult, much more difficult than sitting on our bums doing nothing and complaining.

These are a just few employment opportunities that I can think of... just off the top of my head.

1) If you can afford a small truck and a chainsaw, then you could easily be making a good living working for yourself. Here are some simple facts of life. Many South Africans enjoy a braai. Decent/dry firewood doesn't come cheap. Many South African farms are infested with non-indigenous trees. Many of those farmers would actually pay you to remove those trees. Ching-ching!

2) Whatever happened to the shoe-shine business? It seems pretty-much non-existent here these days? Surely not everyone is wearing sneakers now? All you need is a comfortable chair (anywhere in the shade) and some brushes and cloths and tins of polish, and you could easily be earning a couple of hundred Rand per day? Ching-ching!

3) Some people enjoy cooking and baking, but many people (like me) don't. But we all need to eat. If you are unemployed and your culinary skills are up to scratch, then you might consider cooking dinners for your neighbours too (for a small fee of course)? If they like what you're offering, then you might even be able to extend the invitation to your neighbours' neighbours? Ching-ching!

4) I'm willing to bet that there's not a single farm in this country without at least one hectare of available arable land. I'm also willing to bet that anyone who is prepared to work hard would be able to negotiate a deal with any of those farmers, to work (and plant in) their unused land in exchange for some of the profits. Ching-ching!

I could go on and on, but I won't. The way that I see it, the employment opportunities in this country are infinite, for anyone who is willing to start small and to put in some extra effort.

This is why I am more-than-amused (and slightly confused) by all these striking SAA workers who already have extremely cushy and well-paid jobs, but who would still prefer to cut-off-their-noses-to-spite-their-own-faces!? I'm no economist and I clearly don't understand all the subtle nuances of these things. But to be protesting and striking for an above-inflation wage increase when the company that you're working for is crumbling... that really doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

The way that I see it... the trade-unions are as much to blame for the mess that my beautiful country currently finds itself in, as the (completely useless) ANC. What an extremely sad joke this is!

Sometimes I don't know whether I should laugh or cry, and sometimes I cry when I laugh.

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