By Nigel Nailor
Is this election coming up a key election and is it vital for South Africa’s future? I am not sure that this is true. Why do I say this?
Years ago, I went on a management course and the following was quoted: “The decisions of today limit your decisions and options of the future.” The whole point of this is that you should make decisions that not only address the problems of today but give you options in the future so that you can take good actions in the future.
Another interesting point is that success or failure is a journey and not an event. Take the example of failing or passing an exam: usually the outcome is dictated by how much work you put in. When you go to write the exam you are aware of the effort you have put in and how much you understand, so the outcome is not too much of a surprise. So too with this election: we as a country know how much work was put in to make our future a success or a failure.
So, what has this got to do with the upcoming election? Lots. The people in power (and I would hesitate to call them “leaders”) have made a whole lot of bad decisions that have put severe constraints on our future: for starters, we have failing infrastructure; broken communities; uneducated masses; huge unemployment; runaway crime; angry masses with service delivery protests almost every single day somewhere in South Africa with the police doing nothing but simply watching, too afraid to cause another Marikana; and the country about to have a credit down-rating; and NO money left to fix any of these problems because it is all gone. On top of that we have “state capture”. All this is going to take years, if not decades, to turn around. If you were a foreigner, would you want to invest in South Africa?
We have now arrived at the “future” where the sky is dark with all these decisions “coming home to roost”. There is thus little wriggle room to make a better future for the average South African. Forget about the immediate future, not even for the next 10 to 20 years. And therefore, many of the young adults will not have had the work experience to equip them for a job in the modern economy and are thus doomed to live off social welfare. Many young adults today will never know a formal job in their lives. The tragedy about the generations coming up now is that they accept this as the “new normal” because they do not know better and accept the status quo as it is.
The future for the average South African (i.e. the majority of South Africans) is very bleak: No jobs, no education, no skills to cut it in a modern economy, and the list can go on. It is enough to make one depressed. But need this be so? We will answer that question later in this article.
When you look closely at the above facts, we are left with not many options for the immediate future, and these options only vary in degrees of bleakness: Any “high road” scenario is totally out of the question, unless you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. We are thus left with low road scenarios. Our two choices here will be “The Long Slow Decline” and “The Short Rapid Decline”. Remember: We are talking about the average South African, not the wise few. That can be a very different story!
Why can’t we have a high road scenario? Because of the following rule: “Always follow the money”. There is no money left. Our borrowing capacity is at its maximum, and if the rating agencies are honest (which they have proved not to be in the past), they should give us a downrating. So where has all our money gone? Let us wait for the State Capture Commission to finish its work and tell us (but don’t hold your breath!) Any spare money lying around, and more, is needed to get Eskom going.
Another inhibitor preventing a high road scenario is that too many state policies have to be unwound and none of the main protagonists in this election can do it. It would be political suicide. This dooms us to the low road scenarios.
So how does this affect Orania? What we have spoken about above is for the average. But you do not need to be part of that average. You can be the exception. I asked a young lady from Orania “Where do you see South Africa in the next 10 to 20 years?” and her answer was “I do not know where South Africa is going, but I know where I am going!” and she then went on to tell me about her future plans which were very concrete and bright!
So, the forecast for South Africa is that there will be “pockets of excellence” dotted around the country. It is every community’s decision to be one of these pockets or not. In the pockets of excellence there will be growth and a reasonable degree of prosperity and quality of life which will be built up by those communities’ own labour, capital (i.e. savings) and ingenuity. There will be the intentional communities with clearly defined vision and goal of where they want to go in the future. Orania is well on its way to being one of these pockets of excellence. Hat’s off to the founding fathers (and mothers!) of Orania for having started this journey.
We now come to another important principle: Stephen Covey’s “Circle of Concern” versus the “Circle of Influence”. The Circle of Concern is all those things that you worry about, whilst the Circle of Influence is all those things that you can change. If you concentrate on the Circle of Concern is will grow bigger and bigger and your Circle of Influence will grow smaller and smaller until you become a highly Ineffective Person. If you do it the other way around and focus on your Circle of Influence, it will grow bigger and bigger whilst your Circle of Concern will grow smaller and smaller until you become a highly Effective Person. This happens not only at a personal level, but also at community and state level. Orania is well on its way to becoming a highly Effective Community.
As a matter of interest, communities like the Amish do not believe in participating in elections and shun these and quietly get on with their lives building up their communities and are much better off for it.
What can you do at a personal level to increase your Circle of Influence? If you follow the items below you will become a Quality Person:
Adopt a set of foundational principles/values and live your life by them
Have goals and actively work towards them
Get out of debt or at least reduce debt
Learn skills that are needed in your community
Participate in your community
Live within your means
Proposer by the sweat of your own brow
At a community level, do the items below to become a Quality Community:
Become an intentional community
Use local labour only
Concentrate on building the community
Concentrate on education
Look after the “Three Generations”
Success will be yours and you and your community will have a prosperous future! By the way, by doing that, you will set the example for South Africa and help the country to turn around!
One final note: You all know the saying “A country gets the government that it deserves”. You can reframe this another way using John Maxwell’s “Law of the Lid/Cap”: “The quality of the government of a country cannot exceed the quality of its people”. If we want a better government, then the people of South Africa as a whole must upgrade themselves to be quality people.