Anton Herbst
Anton Herbst

Keeping the hope alive

Everyone would like to be remembered for something, regardless of whether it’s as a great parent or friend; or as someone that had some positive effect on the world during his or her time on it.

So it stands to reason that if you come to the end of your life and the message on your headstone states your name, your date of birth and the date of your death, you will have failed horribly in achieving that goal.

The average stranger would no doubt deduce that you were merely present on this Earth between those two dates, but not much more.

What’s worse, however, is that someone a little more intuitive would note that there’s nothing more that even your family and loved ones could say about you than merely stating that you were present for a specific length of time.

In effect, your effect on this world would have been nil and in my opinion it would be a terrible waste of a life.

So how do you change that?

Well, it’s quite simple, really — you begin gearing every single decision and choice behind that single goal; that one thing for which you want to be remembered.

While the concept is simple, implementing it is a little different. It affects all manner of things you would have never thought it would.

Take, for example, choosing the goal of being the best parent you can be to your children. Everything you do consciously or not needs to be aligned behind this.

It means that although you might believe the best thing you can do for your children is to provide a sound financial platform for them and, as such, need to spend long hours at the office, they might well need you to spend more time at home.

It gets a little more philosophical than that. How could you possibly be the best parent to your children if you smoke? Today, there’s conclusive proof that smoking shortens your lifespan and it’s naive to believe that smoking doesn’t increase your risk of contracting cancer.

Surely your children want you in their lives for as long as possible? Surely it’s unfair to make them suffer through your protracted illness and death, caused by lung cancer?

If you start thinking honestly about the mark you’d like to leave on this world and society, setting your goals and making the right decisions becomes easy. Having the courage to stick to those choices is more difficult.

It’s not just humans that should avoid “presenteeism”, however. It’s a concept that applies to businesses, countries, governments and political parties alike.

Take for example the members of the South African government that were responsible for apartheid. Until the end of time, they will be remembered for the pain, suffering and injustice that their ideals caused for so many.

And here’s the more important fact — everything positive that came out of that era, such as the stimulation of the internal economy and the infrastructure that was created under it, is swept under the carpet.

The effects of these things pale in comparison to the effect that apartheid had on South Africa. And that’s the primary reason every action and choice needs to be influenced by that ultimate goal and legacy you want to leave behind, regardless of whether you’re a person, country or company.

Another thing to bear in mind is that circumstances are not important — how you react to your situation and what decisions you make, however, are.

Let me give you another example. Zimbabwe, today, should have a positive story to tell, one that hails it as a champion in beating colonialism.

Instead, the choices the country has made have created a reality that’s completely opposite. The circumstances — that is, the fact that the country conquered colonialism — have nothing to do with the label Zimbabwe bears today.

South Africa finds itself with an opportunity to change the largely negative story it has today (despite being able to lay claim to one of the most awesome transitions to democracy ever) to a positive one, but it needs to be positive.

Thankfully, South Africans are naturally positive people. That hope we have as a people is the key to making our country’s story a positive one. And we must do everything we can, as a people, to protect that hope.

Negativity can kill that hope — so we need to make sure that we tell positive stories.

We have an opportunity to change things around, but it depends on us, and more importantly on whether we as citizens are going to be involved, or whether we’re just going to be bystanders.

I don’t know about you, but I think the former sounds most appealing.

  • Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos

    “…In effect, your effect on this world would have been nil and in my opinion it would be a terrible waste of a life. So how do you change that? You begin gearing every single decision and choice behind that single goal; that one thing for which you want to be remembered.”

    Mmmh! That’s sensible for someone who’s got all his faculties in good work condition, but what do you say to someone with a rigid head, intellectually bankrupt, and with zero credibility to lead and govern? – I know you’re asking, what am I f*ken talking about? – The answer is exactly what you have- Mad Bob

    “…there’s conclusive proof that smoking shortens your lifespan and it’s naive to believe that smoking doesn’t increase your risk of contracting cancer.”

    Wow! No wonder the chief commander is somewhat restless, his days are numbered, remember he was the ‘very’ person who used to smoke that Pipe in face of this nation.

    “…Negativity can kill that hope — so we need to make sure that we tell positive stories.”

    Phew! What do you say to do this?-

    “I’ve been singing happy birthday to Mandela for 30 years and quite frankly, I’m tired. Of course he helped a lot of people, but after that it’s all about him, him, him,” — Hugh Masekela

    Because it seems as if he (Hugh) has gone back to that ‘strong’ substance, he was admitted to the Rehab for.

    Indeed; We are naturally positive.

  • Vanilla African

    Siphiwo, I hope you can swim because I think you missed the boat completely with what the author was trying to say.

  • Vonney

    Zimbabweans also have hope Anton. They have hope that they too will rebuild the image of their country after the regime ends…There know that change will need to startand I believe all the events are culminating to the Change…If you have interacted and been to Zim of late you will know that there is at a mustard seed of hope. Im sorry but the examples of countries does not bear well with me..Every country in Africa has problems and others like Zim are more than other nations but we forget that other countries are not getting as much Media attention for obvious reasons. I believe that each contry has its woes. At present SA may seem good but with all the deep set changes there is good but there is also bad. Positivity brings good to a nation but a land that is not free and thriving has a lot of negative energy to deal with. Everyone has a hope Anton its not just SOuth Africans….A mindset that promotes othering only brings problems such as the xenophobic attacks we so earlier..If only the articles bade a sense of hopefulness for the continent that would have done for me..Otherwise the concepts of change are universal and yes it does take time to change but one step at a time will take us to that place we want to be…If South Africa did it who is to say that other nations in Africa like Zim wont see a change in their land..Let the people speak for themselves before you express hopelessness on their behalf!!

  • Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos

    @Vanilla African

    Bring me goggles & swimming gear before I drown…I thought the author was talking about positivity or lack of; and I happened to notice some negativity popping up from people’s orals (the likes of Hugh), shouldn’t I raise that issue? Or am I swimming away from the boat again?

  • Rory Short

    To have any hope of making progress, or making any worthwhile contribution, you need to deal, in a completely unbiased way, with the facts of any situation. So the first challenge is to be able to perceive the facts. Once you have the facts to hand the next step is to work with them in such a way as to to achieve the outcome that you desire.

    The reality is however that we can never get hold of all the facts in any situation so we also need to humbly accept that there is information that we do not have and therefore be prepared to accept some guidance as to what to do from our intuition.

  • Vanilla African

    Vonny, nowhere did the author state that Zim didn’t have hope, he merely pointed out that if we South Africans don’t start thinking positively about this country and our future and start making the correct choices, we could end up not being remembered as the nation that overcame apartheid and rose to success, but instead be another failed African state much like Zim.
    I truly believe Zim will rise again, as soon as the regime topples, in fact I pray for it!
    But I also pray for this country’s people to stop killing each other first and start working on a positive future together.

  • old, female, pale face.

    “”Negativity can kill that hope — so we need to make sure that we tell positive stories.
    We have an opportunity to change things around, but it depends on us, and more importantly on whether we as citizens are going to be involved, or whether we’re just going to be bystanders.
    I don’t know about you, but I think the former sounds most appealing.””
    My positive thinking – Madiba reached 90 years of living, despite Apartheid.
    Negative -he has lived to see his dream trashed.
    http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/Xenophobia/0,,2-7-2382_2359558,00.html
    Excerpt; “Foreigners: We’ll kill you 17/07/2008 23:19 – (SA)
    – “You South Africans will now know how it feels to be injured. “We’re going to kill you.”
    This is what a group of, presumably Congolese men, allegedly shouted at six security guards that were held hostage at the Glenanda camp for victims of xenophobia in Johannesburg.
    Theuns de Lange, 38, of the Interactive Protection security company that was looking after all the safety camps in Johannesburg, on Thursday tlked about how he and five other guards were held up and threatened with death.
    “They meant what they said. “They said they were going to kill us all if the police came.
    “It wasn’t nice because you didn’t know what to expect,” De Lange said.
    Took four guards hostage
    The gang apparently tried to take the pistol of one of his colleagues. De Lange and this colleague were detained at about 06:10 on Thursday morning by seven Congolese men in the camps.
    The men, who are apparently part of a gang, took four of De Lange’s security guards hostage on Wednesday evening. The men were armed with knives. The police later released the hostages and no-one was injured. There are still about 2 000 foreigners in the camp, most of whom are Congolese.
    The managing director of Interactive Protection, Nantes Rykaart, said the Congolese gang was a big problem in the camp. He described the Glenanda camp as the most problematic.
    “The gang members prevent the elderly from queuing for food and want them to pay for food later on. …….”””
    Ex-killers from Congo Basin? Positive?

    http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-07-17-migrants-in-sa-still-denied-antiretrovirals
    Excerpt”””Could you explain the relationship between HIV and migration? Joanna Vearey: There is a complex link between mobility and HIV, and it is evident that where there is mobility, there are clear trends towards the spread of the disease. While local governments have been concerned that international migrants may bring HIV with them, it is increasingly recognised that migrants may be more vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection than the local population. Migrants are at greatest risk to infection (and transmission) when they arrive in their new location as it is the time when their social structures change — perhaps increasing their risk of infection, but most importantly in moving to an urban area they have moved from an area of low prevalence to an area of high prevalence….. “””
    A TIDAL WAVE arriving daily!! ???

    http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?from=rss_South%20Africa&set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=nw20080717173351262C673092
    Excerpt “”Watch out for angry white youths, warns prof July 17 2008 at 05:32PM Many Afrikaner youths are angry and hold rigid views about black people, professor Jonathan Jansen said on Thursday. Jansen, delivering the 5th Annual Bishop Hans Brenninkmeijer memorial lecture in Johannesburg, said these Afrikaner youths had had no direct experience of apartheid and were born around the time of former state president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
    “They (Afrikaner youths) carry within them the seed of bitter knowledge that left unchallenged can easily germinate into the most vile an vicious racial attack.”
    “The Afrikaner youths’ troubled knowledge was transmitted through the family, the church, the schools, cultural associations and peer groups,” he said. These agencies transmitted “dangerous” messages in all white circles despite spectacular changes in the formal institutions of democracy. – Sapa””
    SEEDS of Tribal conflict. ANCYL replica????
    Positive yes – positive signs of future evelopments.

  • old, female, pale face.

    http://www.news24.com/News24/MyNews24/Letters/0,,2-2127-2129_2359766,00.html
    Here are replies to a link about “angry White Youth”
    Another opinion of the story which was also an ‘opinion.’
    The other links are hard news.

  • Sweetpea

    All that the author is trying to say is that we are dis-engaged in life. Our goals and values do not always connect to our actions. I agree….how can we say we love our kids and want to be around long enough to see them succeed, marry, have kids etc…..when we are toxically harming our bodies not only physically through smoking, drinking or whatever tickles our fancy, but also mentally by constantly being negative. There will always be political turmoil, wars, famine, disaster…….but if we change our attitudes and make a difference to the immediate people around us like our finding out what our “helpers” need….they do look after our kids all day you know..What about helping our communities, will we not then lift our heads from all the constant bad news that so easily gets us down in the dolldrums? We complain about how filthy some of the informal settlements are…..well when last have you volunteered or gotten involved to help clean it up or even plant a tree or start a park……get off your negative asses and stop complaining!!!! Giving creates positivity!!!

  • Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos

    Sweetpea

    “…well when last have you volunteered or gotten involved to help clean it up or even plant a tree or start a park……get off your negative asses and stop complaining!!!”

    Phew!
    The latter looks bit inconsiderate SweetPie, harsh indeed. You asked rather an interesting question about ‘when last have we gotten involved in planting trees?’-me thinks-long time ago SweetPie, and it won’t be anytime soon for me to even think about planting anything that grows more than a metre high, not now, not as long as such initiatives are admirably treated as ‘luxury resorts’ by muggers and criminals who want to snatch whatsoever I’ve worked hard for.

    Sorry Sweetpie i don’t give a rat, you can call me with all the kak names in the world, but I’ll never furnish criminals a hierarchy to treasures.

  • Sweetpea

    I am ashamed to call you a fellow citizen Siphiwo….it is people like you who will perpetuate criminal activity because “you don’t give a rat”……help uplift someone who is less fortunate than you and maybe, just maybe,the crime stats will drop…..or are you just another snobbish coconut who looks down on the poor?

  • Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos

    Sweat Pie

    “…I am ashamed to call you a fellow citizen Siphiwo….it is people like you who will perpetuate criminal activity…”

    Pheeeww!
    Temper temper Sweet Pie, chill…You’re definitely close to drowning, I just cannot comprehend why you’re regrettable swimming away from the boat.

    Have you critically read my response to your (earlier) comment? I suppose not, then take my advice, go to the cupboard & get a cup, fill it with coldwater, and enjoy your daily pills-in take, because you seemed to be seeing faint images.

  • Ronald

    Keeping the hope alive