Common sense is often mistaken for over-simplification. At the same time, over-complication is often mistaken for deep understanding.
This mistake can make it easy to dismiss wisdom as over-simplification. At the same time, it can hamstring us into taking little to no action for fear of destabilising what we think is a complicated situation.
Presently we are grappling with brazen violations of our constitution and national trust, unsolved historical challenges, a poisoned political atmosphere, contesting socioeconomic and cultural ideologies, crime and treason among others.
In the middle of this complicated and confusing setup, wisdom is required. And here, wisdom’s role is to simplify and express our predicament in a way which is easily understood, at least to most of us.
It is a difficult task. Clearly the ruling party has taken too long to voice its disapproval of problems, the likely outcome of which were actually obvious from the start of Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
Some of Zuma’s most vocal and militant proponents have since seen the light, some sooner than others, some very late in the day. These are the likes of Julius Malema, Zwelinzima Vavi, and Blade Nzimande.
They and many others fell into the trap of over-complicating the sphere of politics. Where wisdom called for the political space to be simplified by upholding principles and ethics, they swept these aside, apparently enticed by the prospect of getting their hands on the levers of power.
But what they failed to recognise in their rush to grasp those levers and tug them in a particular direction, is that if they were able to succeed despite overriding the most basic moral values, then someone else would be able to do so too.
And in the end, the Gupta/Zuma network seems to have outdone almost everyone in tugging to reach the short-sighted goal of massive self-enrichment, and along with it destroying our fiscus and future prospects as a country.
As the nation’s crisis deepens – not the least part being our failing economy – it baffles me as to how the governing party is able to remain so completely concerned with itself.
For the ANC, nothing appears to be more important than the December elective conference. Blow state capture and national sovereignty.
What exactly do they think they are governing? And for whom? Also baffling is how parts of South African society still seems to harbour the idea that a saviour will emerge out of the very same ANC that brought us into our current unhappy predicament.
In fact, so successful do the psychological manipulations of the former liberation party seem to have been, that, in our minds at least, South Africa is somehow synonymous with the ANC and vice versa. And try as we might to envision a different future, the hold of the lies and promises repeated over many years seems to pull us back into a false hope that the once mighty ANC might rise again.
I do understand the human inclination to preserve what is already there. This is to preserve the status quo. It is a natural human instinct to try as much as possible, to keep things from changing. This is closely related to our instinct to protect ourselves.
Trouble is, it can defy logic and stops us from fulfilling our great collective potential. And the reality is, if we do not wish to arrive at the unpleasant destination for which we are presently headed, unencumbered consideration of our present trajectory is necessary, followed by a firm commitment to altering course and deliberate steps towards that.
It is easy for each of us to dig in our heels on our preferred ideas about socioeconomic issues, our respective ideologies or even religious preferences. Such tendencies tend to be heightened in crises – such as the one we have so carelessly drifted into as a country.
It is also just as easy to try to point fingers of blame at another and give life to the kind of slimy campaigns that Bell Pottinger drew up on behalf of the Zupta patronage network.
As a crisis unfolds, it’s all too easy to be lulled into thinking we should go back to historic positions. But the truth is that our survival requires nothing less of us as citizens, than change and that we do so drastically.
When we grew up, a common analogy of lunacy was the picture of someone who used to fetch water with a bucket that had many holes in it. That person would go back time and again trying to fetch water, but they could not understand why they always arrived home with an empty bucket.
This is where we find ourselves. If we keep hoping the ANC, or our historical ideologies, or our communist inspired slogans, or our superiority-infused western liberal smugness, will bring us out of the quagmire we are in, we are mistaken.
Rescue from a crisis is not about proving who is right, it is about making a collective effort to face reality in an informed, comprehensive, modern way and finding solutions which are tailored specifically for the good of all South Africans. Rather than trying to seal an old rickety bucket, we need to find a new one that will serve us all well into the future!