LOCKDOWN – IS IT MASS SUICIDE?

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Many years from now, future historians will be scratching their heads to figure out how the mass suicide in 2020 was sanctioned. And how was it possible that so many so-called developed countries, with the legacy of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and advanced technology at their disposal, were still caught with their pants down by a virus?

And, yes, by suicide, I mean actual suicide, but also the destruction of our livelihood, driving businesses into liquidation and damaging our mental state.

This article should be read in tandem with my previous post (The Emperor is Naked) where it was emphasised from the outset that I am not against the lockdown. On the contrary. I think it is the best way to contain the virus. My concern is about the way this lockdown is been managed.

In 1978, Jim Jones, leader of an American cult in the Guyanese jungle, ordered his followers to murder a US congressman and several journalists, then commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch.

His followers, some acceptant and serene, others probably coerced, queued to receive cups of cyanide punch and syringes. The children were poisoned first, and can be heard crying and wailing on the commune’s own audio tapes, later recovered by the FBI.

In total  909 followers of Jones, including 304 children, died that day.

Decades later, survivors of the tragedy still remember being part of an organization that they devoted a good portion of their lives to. “The people were incredible,” says Jean Clancey. “People who were capable of committing themselves to something outside of their own self-interests.”

“We – all of us – were doing the right things but in the wrong place with the wrong leader,” adds Laura Johnston Kohl.

Tim Carter said, “There were so many lies that Jones told to people to create a state of siege mentality in the community, that even those that were making ‘a principled stand of revolutionary suicide’ probably were influenced a lot by the lies that he was telling them.”

Leslie Wagner-Wilson,  told Fox News: “There’s a need. People want to be a part of something. They want to feel safe; they want to feel a sense of community.

“In an environment like this”, Ms Wagner-Wilson cautions, “you might think there’s something wrong, but because everyone else is embracing it and clapping and being joyous, you look at yourself and say, ‘It must be me’”.

Familiar key words, aren’t they? Incredible people, committed, do the right thing, sense of community, feel safe, clapping and being joyous, etc.

At the time, after hearing about this horrible mass suicide for the first time, I was thinking to myself, how on earth is it possible for so many people to be influenced by one man? How can a parent feed their crying, unwilling children poison and then commit suicide? It’s madness.

Now, in 2020 I wonder no more. I’m experiencing it.

Currently, an estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – is living under some kind of lockdown or quarantine. This is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted.

Unfortunately, we already have a good idea of its results. In late February 2020, right before European countries mandated various forms of lockdowns, The Lancet , a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal , published a review of 24 studies documenting the psychological impact of quarantine. The findings offer a glimpse of what is brewing in hundreds of millions of households around the world.

In short, and perhaps unsurprisingly, people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as being very common, the study notes.

In just a two week period, suicide was the leading cause for over 338 “non-coronavirus deaths” in India due to distress triggered by the nationwide lockdown – 151 people killed themselves due to loneliness, withdrawal symptoms and  financial distress.

It is estimated that up to 150,000 Britons could die from non-coronavirus causes, caused by a spike in suicides and domestic violence, because of the UK’s lockdown. The pandemic is expected to have a huge knock-on effect on people’s mental health due to financial worries and a disruption to routine. As early as 6 April, it was published that an increasing number of mental health incidents had been reported to police.

The new-normal that we are trying to maintain is unsettling, in troubling and intense ways. Unnerving, because we really don’t know what tomorrow will be like. Apparently, for humans, living with uncertainty is harder than living with pain. According to writer and psychotherapist, Bryan Robinson, participants in an experiment who were told they would definitely receive a painful electric shock were calmer than those who were told that they had a 50% chance of receiving one. Our brains, argues Robinson, are wired to equate uncertainty with danger.

No wonder solitary confinement – being used in prisons to keep unruly prisoners in check – receive so much criticism for having detrimental psychological effects and, to some and in some cases, constituting torture.

In South Africa,  the national government’s Gender-based Violence Command Centre recorded more than 120 000 calls from victims who rang the national helpline for abused women and children in the first three weeks after the lockdown started – double the usual volume of calls.

The damage that COVID-19 is causing is irrefutable, but so are the effects of the lockdown. As a global community we are united in following these restrictions despite its adverse affects – such is the power of the ‘herd mentality’. Indeed, it is the only solution we have until a vaccination is found, but it doesn’t mean that we have to resign ourselves to the worst of these conditions. Perhaps our leaders can take a leaf from a publication in The Lancet, titled “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it”:

  • Information is key; people who are quarantined need to understand the situation.
  • Effective and rapid communication is essential.
  • Supplies (both general and medical) need to be provided.
  • The quarantine period should be short and the duration should not be changed unless in extreme circumstances.
  • Most of the adverse effects come from the imposition of a restriction of liberty; voluntary quarantine is associated with less distress and fewer long-term complications.
  • Public health officials should emphasise the altruistic choice of self-isolating.

Stay safe!

skape

 

ME AND OLD FAITHFUL IN LOURENҪO MARQUES

ME AND OLD FAITHFUL IN LOURENҪO MARQUES

In 1972, as a young boy, I went on a school trip to Lourenço Marques (LM – these days called Maputo) in Mozambique. Now, that was a big occasion – in my family, anyhow – because, except for my grandfather who fought in North Africa during the Second World War, I was probably the first member of my family, even extended, to travel beyond the borders of our country, South Africa. My dad even bought me a brand-new camera – an Olympus Trip 35. With a flash!

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One of the very first pictures that was taken with my new prized possession, was the one below, of me with a group of friends (me on the left, wearing very colourful swimming trunks and a souvenir around my neck) near the beach in LM.

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Since then, it is impossible to count the number of photo’s and colour slides that Old Faithful had given me as wonderful mementos of my life. Rugby tours, holidays, my military training and fighting during the Bush War in Namibia and Angola, our honeymoon, my children, first visits to Europe, etc. With modern technology, Old Faithful became obsolete and films (and development studios) harder to find.

The other day, while I was busy unpacking boxes in our new home, guess who popped up? Yes, Old Faithful – my Olympus Trip 35! I remembered seeing a shop where films were sold and I rushed there to buy one. Unfortunately they only had 200 ISO in stock and I still had to unpack my tripod. Like in the old days, I could barely wait to see the results of what I’ve captured on film. And then the big day …

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, but hey, give Old Faithful a break – after almost 50 years! Have a look for yourself.

OLYMPUS TRIP 3511

OLYMPUS TRIP 354

OLYMPUS TRIP 355

OLYMPUS TRIP 3518

OLYMPUS TRIP 3521

I, TOO, HAVE A DREAM …

I, TOO, HAVE A DREAM …

VLAG

(IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR POLITICALLY VERY CORRECT, THIS POST IS …  ESPECIALLY FOR YOU!)

Dear Julius,

Oh, not necessarily you, Mr Malema – this is intended for all the Juliuses, Tumi’s. Jan Rappe (and their friends), Toms, Dicks, Harrys, Jane and John Does of South Africa (or, in fact, to anyone who cares to read this). So many people air their views on “racial issues” these days, so I thought – Why not join the conversation? After all, I still believe that communication is more constructive than burning city halls or campuses.

I am frequently reminded that I am white and Afrikaans and therefore in a privileged position. Well, am I? Privileged, that is – these days I’m not so sure. I did have a bicycle (metaphorically and a real one, too) when I was a child, but it was not stolen (referring to the now infamous remark by Jacaranda-Tumi). My dad worked his butt off to buy me that bike – and, of course, everything else that we possessed. He worked on the railways (as we used to say) and, as the eldest son from a poor family, as many Afrikaans families in the 1930’s and 1940’s were, he had to leave the nest at 16 to help provide for the family – like many other young men. When I was a child, my school, with asbestos classrooms (can you believe it!) had very few facilities. That is why every single pupil eagerly took part in planting lawns for a sports field and establishing the gardens. Many an afternoon, after school, was spent doing this. With the proceeds of fundraising projects, everyone – including moms and dads – worked  hard to bring about facilities such as a school hall, sports equipment and a piano. We really worked hard for that.

We never discussed politics in our house. My parents taught us to treat all people with respect – whether they were street sweepers or soldiers, servants or bank managers. All people were treated with respect; black, white, brown – everyone. What they also taught us – well, actually it was not really necessary to teach – is to condemn certain acts and deeds. We were, for example, not particularly keen about burglars and killers. Robbers and vandals, too, never received any Christmas cards from us. Nor did paedophiles and men who abused their wives. Oh yes, and of course racists. Yes, there were definitely people who we did not want to be associated with, but then it was not because of who they were or the colour of their skin, but rather about what they were doing. But with people, ordinary law-abiding people who allowed the sun to shine on their fellow-countrymen, we never had a problem with.

Granted, we did not have any close black friends. We did not have any English, French, Portuguese or American friends either. But it wasn’t because we did not like them. Oh no! It was just that, at the time, we kept to what was familiar to us – our language, church, habits and so on. Frankly, even today, I see how most cultural groups (is there still such a thing as culture?) socialise. But despite that, today my own children’s friends come from all walks of the cultural spectrum. By the way, just between me and you, I think all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, have a bit of “racism” in us. This is probably the reason why I regularly see birds of a feather flock together, especially in communities and on social occasions.

Oh, please bear with me. My babbling up to now was just sort of an introduction. I actually have something else on my mind. Well, two things. Part of me is sad and upset. I also want to explain something and then I also want to see if I can get an answer to an issue that is bothering me. Well, OK, that’s three things, then.

I’m sad, outraged and discouraged by the actions of “my” people. Oh, by the way, I have yet to mention that I have been living in England for some time now. All my possessions are still in storage, patiently waiting for me to return to my beloved South Africa, though. Working conditions, or rather , the lack of it, forced me to spread my wings a bit wider to earn my bread. Affirmative action, where the colour of my skin counted against me, left me struggling to find another job in South Africa. I am therefore in a position to observe the events in South Africa from a distance – almost like a foreigner. By no means does this suggest that I am not South African, which I remain with all my heart and soul – compassionate, loyal and involved. Some of my friends regard me as the most loyal Cheetah and Springbok supporter in the world.

With every visit to South Africa, I am overwhelmed by the warmth and kindness of “my” people – South Africans from the rainbow nation. This is so in contrast to what I observe in the newspapers (no, not necessarily the news reports – it is the insulting remarks by readers following the news reports) and on social media, the intolerance, the murders, the inflammatory protest marches, farm murders and the destruction of everything that we and our ancestors worked so hard for.

 

And that’s why I’m sad and outraged.

I firmly believe that the majority of South Africans truly just want to live in peace and harmony. To feel the warmth of the African sun on them and their families. I always compare South Africa to a glass of clean, wholesome, fresh milk. With a fly in it. And that little fly is the reason why that otherwise pure, fresh milk is spoiled and has lost its appeal. A minority group, a small fly – I believe – that envenoms a whole country. Sixty million people are suffering the affects of these murderers, thugs, corruptors, racists, inciters and the like. People of all creeds and colour who incite hate and intolerance, resulting in stereotyping, hatred and mistrust.

Speaking of stereotyping. It remains a worldwide tendency that will always be a stumbling block towards healthy and peaceful relations between cultures. I regularly witness the suspicion held of Muslims here in Europe (and elsewhere, for that matter) when they board trains or enter public spaces, especially when carrying a backpack. Or how the Romanian gypsies are welcomed nowhere with open arms because all of Europe know what a premises, where they have stayed, look like when they pack up to move on again. And how Nigerians are approached with great caution when money is at stake. Or how the racist remarks and actions of a minority (from all walks of life) taint all the good relations in South Africa. There are many such examples and the common factor leading to this distrust, is almost always the actions of a minority group within those cultures. Here in England, blacks are a minority group. Nevertheless, it is interesting how the police have to jump through hoops to explain their “racist actions” every time after stopping a young black man to search for weapons. Because in 98% of the cases, young black men were involved in knife attacks. And now, all young black men in England and all Muslims (worldwide) are suffering because of the actions of a small group. They are being stereotyped.

As a young conscript in the South African Defence Force, we had to fight off the “Red Danger” and the “Black Danger” and, at the time, it was not that difficult to convince me that they were indeed “dangerous”. In cinemas and newspapers the Red Russians were always portrayed as the villains and as a child, our burglars  – and there were quite a few – were all black men. At school we learned how the Zulus and the Xhosas slaughtered the Voortrekkers. Hollywood showed me in the Tarzan movies how the black “cannibals” cooked the whites in big pots. Stereotyping at its best (or worst).cannibals

And that confused me, because those images and preconceptions of black people were light years apart from my experiences of daily interactions with people like moruti Mohatla (the friendly preacher who knocked on our door every month for donations for his congregation), Martha (our dear ironing lady), Gabriel (our hardworking gardener), Pechu and Bunny – with their parents, Mieta and Elias – (the warm, lovely people who lived and worked on my uncles’s farm) and so many more. I could not understand why they were not allowed to go to the cinema or church with us. But, then I assumed that, maybe the powers that be were worried that, when they allowed them to go to church and cinema with us, the dangerous lot of cannibals, burglars and slaughterers would also sneak in. Yeah, that is what I was thinking as a child.

Apartheid and racism are wrong! Full stop. It was just immoral to exclude the majority of South Africa’s inhabitants from all that this glorious country of us can offer. Having said that, despite the fact that it was very easy for me to vote “Yes” at the time when we were asked if we wanted to share the power in the country with our black fellow citizens, there was an uneasy worrying feeling deep inside me. A few years later, Johannes, my black gardener, experienced the same troubling thoughts when he was allowed to vote for the first time. I remember how he came to ask my opinion on who he should give his vote to, because, like me, he was also too aware of what was happening in other African countries north of our borders. Collapse of infrastructure, corruption, famine, tribal wars and genocide.

Why were so many white people (and, yes, even black people, like Johannes) in South Africa worried about power sharing? Was it because of the images that got stuck in their memories? Images of the Mau Mau’s, the Congolese Crisis, the faction fights in many African countries or the disintegration of infrastructure all over Africa? Or was it, perhaps, witnessing the total collapse of a once prosperous country like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in a relatively short time under Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship.

What is happening in South Africa today, almost 20 years later? As in Zimbabwe, farmers in South Africa are now being murdered and driven from their farms at an alarming rate – by black people. As in Zimbabwe, the people keep one of the most corrupt governments in the world in power (as at the time of writing). Crime and decline of infrastructure is a worrying issue and even receive regular international mentioning. Every week reports of yet another destructive protest cripples our country bit by bit with images of burning buses, trains and buildings spreading like wildfire across the world. Machete wielding blacks barricading roads with stones and burning tyres in protest of the actions (or lack thereof) of the same government that they keep in power – and then looting and destroying property of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the protest action. These are the images that I struggle to explain to my neighbours here in England. I struggle to fight off the returning haunting demons of what-ifs that Johannes and I had battled with all those years back.

 

This is why I am distraught. I feel betrayed by the people to whom Johannes and I entrusted the country that I so deeply love. My worst fears when I made my cross at the polling station all those years back, has come to haunt me. While I’m rejoicing about moruti Mohatla, Martha, Gabriel, Pechu and Bunny who can now go to church and cinema with me, I am all torn up about  those “cannibals and burglars and slaughterers” who did sneak in. Those who are doing exactly now what we were worried about all those years back.

OK, those were two of the issues I wanted to get off my chest. Now for the third one – my question.

I truly want to understand the mentality, the reasoning and thought behind so many actions of black people. Because with understanding comes empathy and empathy leads to healing, acceptance and unity. My whole being yearns for peace and unity.

Could someone please explain to me why, in a modern world and with so many opportunities, black people, whether minority or majority groups, are still victims and still insist on affirmative action across the world. Imagine the outcry if there was a Miss White America pageant? But there is a Miss Black America pageant!  And the Black British Business Awards, the National Association of Black Journalists, and many more associations exclusively for black people .

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In the United Kingdom, a traditional European (read white) country, there are special provisions for the appointment of minority groups (read black people). In South Africa, where black people form the majority, there are quota selections for sports teams, and affirmative action in the workplace and so many more enforcements to give black people, often not on merit, an advantage to prove themselves. Isn’t it degrading?

Successful black people like Nat King Cole, Mohammed Ali, Desmond Tutu, the Williams sisters, Deratu Tulu, Mo Farrah, Ussain Bolt, Tiger Woods, James Earl Jones – too many to name, got to the top of their game with shear hard work and perseverance. No affirmative action, quota selections or special treatment. No sir! They were – and are still – being honoured and loved  by the whole world because of their achievements. They’ve earned respect. I don’t see a black person when watching Idris Alba or listening to Gregory Porter. I see a hugely talented human being. I prefer to surround myself with positive, forward-thinking, hardworking people. The majority of my friends – and all of my black friends – tick those boxes.

Oh, and another thing. Why do many black people insist on taking over (and sometimes even destroy!) establishments that were established over years with love, hard work and traditions by white people. Let me give you an example – universities for Afrikaans students, to name but one. Why don’t you (or us) just build universities for Zulu’s or Sotho’s? Hijacking and destructive actions like these remind me of the story about the ants who work hard all year round to gather food and then the locusts come and just help themselves to the ants’ hard-earned food until there is nothing left for either of them. Look what is happening (or, more correctly, not happening) all over Africa – arguably the most beautiful continent with so much potential. Every so often European countries or America have to provide food, or medicine or other necessities. I never see vice versa actions. What is preventing Africa from developing and producing enough food and care for its people? So-called Western countries are for ever assisting some African country or another, going from one crisis to the other, because, after all these years, very little development took shape. It is almost as if there is no future vision or planning ahead. Why?

And please, don’t play the oppression card. So many nations across the world, over centuries, suffered oppression. The Jews, the Afrikaners, the Irish, the Czechs … too many to mention. But they did not stay down. They rose from the ashes and became proud nations. But not in Africa. Zimbabwe, to name but one country, was demolished in a relatively short period under a black government. Is this where South Africa is heading to?

To conclude. What and who I like and don’t like, who I love and don’t love do not make me a racist. Being a racist makes one a racist – people who don’t like others just because of their skin colour. I condemn actions and thoughts, not people.

I was not responsible for what happened to black people anywhere in the world and you have no right or grounds to blame me for your circumstances or your history. It is almost 2018 and time for those of you who keep blaming me to change your attitude. The past is the past. Neither you, nor I – no-one! – can change anything about the past. If we keep living in the past, blaming the whole world for our circumstances, we will never be able to focus on the future. Nothing drags you down like bitterness and hatred. Blaming others and calling others racist just because they are today’s whites, makes you a racist. I am as proud of my country, South Africa, as the next person. I was born there, that is where my roots are. When Africa is in your blood, it is in your blood, your soul, your life. What happened to our ancestors, had nothing to do with me and you. Like you, I wasn’t there. I don’t still blame the British government, after all these years, for all the killings, scorched earth policy and humiliation of the Afrikaners during the Boer War. The rest of Europe do not still blame the Germans for World War II. They have made peace, moved on and rebuild. They focus their energy on today and beyond.

Isn’t it time we’d do the same? Take hands and build a country, a safe haven for us and for our children. How many more years do we want to continue this conflict, this hatred, this destruction?

Like another impressive famous black man, I, too, have a dream. I dream of a peaceful rainbow nation – one rainbow, different cultures.

SA SUPPORTERS

The South Africa it can be!

With the kindest of regards,

Andre

SouthAfrica UNITY

 

MAY GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA

MAY GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA

(Despite being an Afrikaans boytjie, I will try my best to do this in English in an effort to make it accessible to non-Afrikaans speaking readers as well.)

Farm-attacks

I am probably as distraught about the recent spate of farm murders in South Africa as the next person. The pictures of blood-soaked rooms and  grief-stricken faces of friends and family in the newspapers, left me staring at the ceiling in the dark room at night.

Cry my beloved country.

So why am I not changing my profile picture on Facebook in support of the farmers? I am, after all, a proud Boerseun (with a capital B) and have people very dear to me making a living off the red soil of South Africa.

I read many South African (and international) newspapers every day ( not just the Afrikaans publications which are aimed at a specific target market). I read about the joys and heartaches in so many homes across the country – from farmsteads to suburban homes and shacks. About the brutal killings of our farmers, the senseless murders in our secured suburbs and the daily heartbreak of yet another killing or ten in townships and squatter camps.

I watched a programme about the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, last night. He also lived in a time when his country was buckling under turmoil and political transgression. Many of his aphorisms are still quoted today. One of them, is:

Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves

We all are in a state of despair and shock and frustration and we all want to shout: Enough is enough!

Enough is indeed enough, so what are we going to do about it? Fight fire with fire? How many more deaths as a result? Will it really solve the problem? Is this war going to end, like most other wars, in destruction and death and further hate?

Confucius also said:

If your plan is for one year, plant rice.

If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.

But if your plan is for hundred years, educate.

We are all occupying ourselves with short term plans. We protest against current issues and burn busses and universities and discuss revenge plans around the braai with no vision of the consequences of the lasting effect of our selfish acts. What are we leaving behind for our children and grandchildren? What will they, one day, read about us in their history books?

rainbow-nation

When I read the different comments of ordinary people in newspapers, see the conduct of some people at shop counters and listen to conversations at social gatherings, I realise why I am staring at the ceiling at night. Another one of the wise old Chinese man springs to mind:

Attack the evil that is within yourself

Rather than attacking the evil that is in others.

Stop stereotyping all people. Not all whites are racists and not all blacks are non-racists. Not every black person is a Zuma or a criminal or a killer and, yes, white people are also corrupt and they do kill people. We should unite against the corrupt government, their sponsors and cronies  and make them accountable for their actions (or lack of it).

The moment we realise that we are all inhabitants of the same country, under the same law (or disrespect of it), victims of the same criminals and all dependant on the same sun, rain and air, we will make progress towards unity. And unity is what we want. Unity against the thugs, and killers and the corrupt government. And against people who don’t want to share this beautiful country with others who are not the same as them.

SPRINGBOK RUGBY

And for that reason I am not changing my profile picture, because I do not want to marginalise any of the good people in South Africa. I support the farmer, the housewife, the teacher, the policeman, the car guard and all the souls in South Africa who try to bring about unity. People who don’t engage in hate crime, destruction, murder, rape, child molestation and so many of the horrible actions that fill the news columns of newspapers worldwide. I support people who can truly embrace the words of our Lord:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Let us show our condemnation of the farm attacks by wearing black T-shirts or changing our Facebook profiles or by any non-destructive way we want. But keep in mind that there are so many more victims of all walks of life. We should unite and combine our energy against CRIME and CORRUPTION in our country.   Full-stop!

I remain on my knees: Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!

Let’s shake hands on that.

SA SUPPORTERS

ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

Have you ever stood on a platform at the station while a diesel locomotive effortlessly glides past you? The smooth reassuring rumbling of that immensely powerful machine demands admiration while the trembles of the platform find their way up your legs. You just know that a mighty powerful force is at work here.

I’ve often linked the well-known saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” with this diesel-power and found some inspiration in it. I made myself believe that humanity consists of two main groups: Ordinary Elves (OE’s) and the Tough Diesel Engines (TDE’s). The Ordinary Elves represent the majority of people who are responsible for the normal day to day running of life as we know it. They get ready for work, go to work, do their work, go home, watch TV and go to bed. They are very important because they do just about everything from cleaning our streets, working in the offices, building our cars and houses, to making our clothes, nursing us, teaching us, defending and protecting us. Everything… up to a certain point. The OE’s only work until things start to heat up, when the challenges get more demanding and stress levels start rising.elves

That’s the signal for The Tough Diesel Engines to start up. When the OE’s can’t go any further, the TDE’s take over. You hear that mighty rumble and stand in awe. The TDE’s work, even when others sleep; they seem to get a sadistic pleasure out of problem-crunching. They never ask for pity but, hey, neither will they give a problem any. They don’t know the meaning of surrender; they persevere in the midst of adversities, battle their way onwards, forwards, always forwards.diesel

Are you a TDE or an OE?

One of the South African Defence Force’s elite units has a back-breakingly harsh selection and training program. Many try, but only a few make it to the end. The last phase of the program demands a survival route where the soldiers have to find their way in the most inhospitable environment and under the most unforgiving conditions imaginable. As the days drag by, the group of hopefuls dwindles because at the temporally bases transport is ready for those who wish. It’s your choice: allow the whole exercise to get the better of you and make use of the transport (and get disqualified in the process) or force yourself onward vigorously with the utmost exertion. special-forces-training

One pitch dark night an unfortunate soldier walked straight into a dry twig from a low-hanging tree branch. The twig impaled him in the eye, just missing his eyeball and blood was pouring from his wound. That same night another guy broke his ankle. These two decided not to go for treatment that would have put them at risk of disqualification and, after applying a bit of very basic medical treatment themselves, they pushed on.

As the days progress, you start to lose all sense of time and the only drive, ultimately, is to reach the prearranged rendezvous in time.

Unbeknown to the soldiers, the end of the course was in sight and, after a day with barely enough water supplies, the men reached the rendezvous, semi-conscious, anguished, hungry and dehydrated. The commander came up to them where they were huddled in a cloud of dust, flies and the sweaty smell of protracted scorching days in the bush on them. He addressed them – gesturing while clutching an icy cold beer. Pausing for a moment, he took a long sip, looked at the bottle and then emptied the content onto the absorbing sand, within sniffing distance of the shattered men. The beer was not cold enough.

“Guys,” he said, “I’m going to enjoy a colder one in the base after taking a long hot shower. Anyone care to join me? Transport is ready – anyone?”

Two men cracked then and there and stumbled to the waiting Land Rover. While two others tried to suck the wasted beer from the sand, the commander informed the remaining men that the next day would be the final day of this grueling encounter and that they could expect a barbeque and cold beer at the rendezvous.

With renewed effort and all the strength they could muster, they tackled the final stage.

The next evening, on approaching the rendezvous, the depleted group of men, drained to the bone, noticed a solitary Land Rover, nothing else. The closer they got, the clearer it became: no barbeque-fire, no beer, nothing to eat. Some of them flopped down onto their knees in a cloud of dust and started weeping. During the day they had consumed all their water and rations – no need to save it because, so they had been told the previous night, tonight the end of this phase would be celebrated with plenty to eat and drink. Of the initial squad, only nine had survived. The commander then stepped out of the Land Rover and walked towards the wretched group of men.

“Listen guys, there’s been a misunderstanding and I admit that I’m the one to blame. I got the dates mixed up, and I’m truly, truly sorry. Tomorrow, not today, will be the end of this phase. As a token of my remorse, I’ve brought you a little something to eat. It’s on the Land Rover. I will completely understand if some of you want to go back with me, there’s plenty of space on the Land Rover. The rest of you, get your instructions for tomorrow and something to eat.”

Two men summarily got onto the Land Rover, Their grazed, grey faces, empty eyes sunken into the sockets, told the whole story of disappointment and disillusionment. The remaining seven opened the stainless steel food container – raw cabbage drenched in diesel. No water either, only their instructions. Was it a sadistic smile on the commander’s face as he started the engine? Another guy got onto the vehicle. The remaining six contemplated the long, dry stretch ahead of them, and then started walking.

About two kilometers further, as they came round a hill, they could at first smell it and then they saw it: a campsite with flames from barbeque-fires and cold beers to welcome them. The end of their ordeal!braai

What went through the minds of those guys on the Land Rover? If only they’d held on for two more kilometres – two kilometres stood between them and a victory!tired-soldier

All so often we throw in the towel without really knowing how close we are to success. Isn’t it worthwhile, after all the pain and suffering, to give it one more push? Are we not just two kilometres away from victory?

My mother engraved a saying in my memory and even when the diesel engine wearies, her catchphrase echoes:

NEVER SAY DIE, GET UP AND TRY!

never-say-die

May you experience God’s loving care in the same abundance I have.

God bless.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

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STILTE

STILTE

cathedral-winchester-1

Die watergevulde kelder in Winchester katedraal

Daar’s mos baie soorte stiltes.

Kyk, jy kan vir enige pa van ‘n tienerdogter vra oor wakkerlê-stiltes. Dis nou wanneer die pa wakkerlê en wonder hoekom dit so  stil is daar waar daai einste dogter met haar kêrel in die sitkamer is. Veral wanneer die pa nog kan onthou van die dae, baie lank gelede, toe hy ook so saam met ‘n ander pa se dogter in die sitkamer gesit het.pa-in-bed

Dan kry jy katedraalstiltes wanneer jy ‘n gebou soos die Notre Dame binnestap en die swaar houtdeur sluit die buitegeluide agter jou uit. Sulke stiltes het  ‘n reuk ook. En dis ook nie heeltemal stil nie, want mense fluister en neem foto’s.paris_notre-dame

Die stilte voor ‘n storm, enige storm, kan senutergend raak. Dis nóú stil, maar iets gaan gebeur, dit broei. Jou maag voel dit en jou nekspiere raak styf. Hierdie stilte hoef ook nie regtig iets met die weer te doen hê nie.stilte-voor-die-storm

Daardie stilte onder die sterre van ‘n Karoonag – ‘n stilte wat jy in jou gebeente voel, deur jou are voel pomp. ‘n Dankbare, lofliedstilte. Nou en dan is daar die geluid van ‘n nagdier, verder niks behalwe jou asemhaling en hartklop nie.karoo

Vir my is die ergste stilte egter daardie koue stilte. Stilte wat jy met ‘n mes kan sny.

Byvoorbeeld.

Jy ry in die kar, dalk effens te naby aan die padprop voor jou. Jy weet wie sy nommerplaat gemaak het, want jy kan duidelik die plakker in klein lettertjies sien. Maar dit pla jou nie. Hoekom beweeg hy nie oor na die stadige baan nie!  Jy’s haastig, want julle is laat. Eintlik is dit jou blom wat langs jou sit se skuld, want vroumense draai mos altyd. (Amper altyd. Oukei … soms.) Maar jy sê niks, konsentreer op die pad, probeer tyd wen.tailgating-banner

Jy flits ligte, praat en beduie: “Beweeg oor na die ander baan, jou uil!” (Goed, ek skryf uil ter wille van wie ook al hier lees, maar dit is nie werklik wat gesê word nie.) Jy weet voor jou siel jy moenie so naby die ou ry nie. Jy weet dis gevaarlik en waarskynlik die oorsaak van die meeste ongelukke. Maar jy is die beste bestuurder in die wêreld. Mos. Jy kan vinnig rem as daar gerem moet word. Buitendien, dis die uil (sien verduideliking hierbo) hier voor jou wat verkeerd is. Hy moet bietjie ‘n les geleer word. Mos. Jou ligteflits het geen effek op hom nie.

Blom kom in beweging. “Bedaar, bedaar!  Jy kan nie so op die man se stert sit nie, my maggies. Jy maak hom senuweeagtig.” Sy trap rem, maar daar is geen pedale waar sy sit nie.

Al die goed wat sy sê, weet jy, maar iewers spring ‘n spiertjie.

“Wil jy bestuur?” vra jy met jou kalmste stemtoon. Sy ken egter al jou stemtone, almal van hulle.

“Jy gaan ons verongeluk. Ry net stadiger.”

“Luister, as jy nie so gedraai het nie, dan hoef ek nie nou so te gejaag het nie.” Effens ander stemtoon.

Jy wéét eintlik dat dit nie die werklike rede vir die gejaag is nie, want jy ry altyd te vinnig. Die duike in die vloer aan die passasierskant waar Blom altyd vastrap, getuig daarvan.

“Ek… ag, jy…” probeer sy, maar sy is nou te warm om behoorlik te dink. “Reg, ry soos jy wil. Ek maak nie weer my mond oop nie, maar…”paartjie-in-kar

En met daardie “maar” pak sy ‘n gevaarlike wapen uit.

Stilte.

‘n Ysige stilte sak oor jou toe. Daai een wat wat rillings teen jou ruggraat laat afgly, wat die sweetdruppels in jou nek laat vries. Jy besef jou fout en probeer haar hand vat om dinge in trurat te gooi.  Jy ry selfs stadiger en beweeg oor na die middelbaan. Maar dis te laat. Sy gooi haar gewig op haar linkerboud, trek haar hand weg en kyk by die venster aan haar kant uit.

Stilte. Dit kom lê soos ‘n sak mielies op jou bors, kom vou soos ‘n nat mus om jou kop.couple-after-argument2

Julle bereik jul bestemming veilig. So tussen die groetery en glimlagte probeer jy weer, maar haar hand is weer te vinnig vir jou. Jy vat haar om die lyf. Sy glimlag vir die gasvrou en kners vir jou. Jy hou jou greep om haar middel.

Soos die aand aanstap, begin die ys so staaadigaan te smelt. Die stiltegordyn maak op ‘n skrefie oop. Haar hand word stadiger weggeruk.

Ssjjjjjjt… Versigtig nou.

dagwood

YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE:
THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN,
THOSE WHO WATCH THINGS HAPPEN AND
THOSE WHO WONDER WHAT HAPPENED.
                                                          ANONOMOUS

Believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance. Be daring but not reckless. Listen selectively to other people; ask their advice and opinion and evaluate it with an open mind.

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM:UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

(Advice on how to get back to your feet after life has dealt you a blow. In this case, job loss is used as an example, but the principles can be applied to most setbacks.)

Sometimes a supposed weakness in your make up could be the result of a poor self-esteem or lack of confidence. Perhaps merely a nasty seed that someone planted earlier in your life and now you firmly believe that you have a weakness without ever really putting it to the test.

poor-self-esteem-300x200

If you believe that you are not a good salesperson, then you will definitely not sell anything. But if you decide: Let’s see, if I prepare myself well and I believe in my product and I introduce my own unique style where I focus on honesty, sincerity and excellent service, who knows where I could end up. BUT, then your approach shouldn’t be halfheartedly. No! Go for it, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and with all the confidence you can muster.  Such an attitude has been the modest start for several contemporary successful people.

i-cannot

If I know deep in my soul that I’m not a strong swimmer, there is no way that I will dive into the deep end of a swimming pool. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to stay clear of swimming pools. I can start at the shallow end and on my own, in my own way, learn to swim. Or I can get professional coaching and before you know it, in no time, I will swim confidently at the deep end of the pool.swem

Be sensible when you tackle something on a larger scale, something that will require knowledge, experience or skills if the task involves one of your so-called weaknesses. Do not necessarily avoid it, but rather strive to get as much information, training and understanding about your endeavour as possible, before you attempt it. Start, perhaps, on a smaller scale, move slightly to the shallower end of the swimming pool. The experience will follow inevitably.

This exercise is a lot of fun, but it will lead you to more serious issues. It will make you think; it will teach you about yourself and stimulate your brain into future directions and resolve many past issues. It is a soul-searching experience that will give answers to who you are and what possibilities there are for you.i-can

Change Yourself

This is also a very good opportunity to look at all those things that you have always been meaning to change about yourself. Every one of us has traits that we want to change. Some wish to stop smoking; others try to lose a bit of weight, eat healthier or get fitter. There are people who would like to change their attitude by, for instance, becoming more self-assertive. Most things you want to change about yourself, only you can do. Decide what you want to change and start today by setting attainable goals for yourself. Find support and help if necessary, but for crying out loud, just start. Why not today?

This, conversely, will be a futile exercise if not engaged in positively. Pessimism at this point is one of your major enemies and the enemy will always strive to destroy you. Be warned: do not let this dreadful monster overwhelm you. Concentrate continuously on staying positive. Oh, you will be exposed to setbacks all the time, real hazards, like rolling waves. The tests of true resilience, though, does not lie in the number of times you have been knocked down by these waves, but in the number of times you stood up again after being flattened. Don’t get discouraged when it happens. Learn from your setbacks and get up!

Be on your guard and concentrate not to decline into a pathetic little bundle – filled with self-pity. Think of films that you have seen or even personal experiences with people. You almost get annoyed with those people who feel so sorry for themselves. They seem to feel the world and mankind owe them. This can eventually develop into a serious “illness”. Very soon they don’t want to do or try anything, because “What’s the use?” Everything and everyone is always against them. They have made up their minds beforehand that they will not come up to scratch and the only thing that will make them happy again is when this “everyone and everything” change their attitudes towards them, when the goddess of fortune smiles at them again. Until that happens, they just sit as pathetic little bundles, waiting for some amazing thing to happen.

It is NOT going to happen. YOU will have to make it happen. Let me tell you a secret: the goddess of fortune and the tooth fairy are one and the same. They live with the Sandman and Santa Claus in Never-Never land. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they don’t exist.

make-it-happen

Sometimes we get the impression that some people just have all the luck in the world. This is simply not true. There are two things that we have to realise. One is about perceptions and the other about opportunities.

Let’s have a look at perceptions first.

Suppose your car breaks down. You have had it up to your ears with this heap of scrap. That same day your friend passes you driving a brand new car and the following day you overhear the guy at the coffee table next to you telling his friend about his new entertainment system at home. Immediately you get the impression: How on earth can EVERYBODY afford new things and I have to plod on with my junk-on-wheels? What you don’t know is that this coffee shop-guy has been saving up to buy his entertainment system for years now and that your friend has had an accident, written off his car and compelled by necessity, had no choice but to get a new set of wheels. For the next year or more they will have to tighten their belts to afford the re-payments. What’s more, you have to realise that millions of people will cross your path and from time to time some of those millions of people will buy something new. Not EVERYBODY. Tomorrow your wife will have to buy a new pair of shoes (because by now the old ones are really in shreds) and then the wife of the new-car-friend will envy your wife while thinking: “When last could I buy myself a new pair of shoes?”

Every one of us, therefore, receives the occasional bit of “good fortune”.  You may only have the PERCEPTION that other people have more “good fortunes” than you, but dig a little deeper and decide for yourself if you would swap roles with them and have all their “bad luck” together with all their “good fortunes”.

What about opportunities?

oppurtunity

Every one of us has opportunities. Not necessarily the same opportunities, but opportunities none the less. The supposedly “fortunate, chosen ones” have developed a way of spotting an opportunity when it presents itself and what’s more, they grab these opportunities. How many times have we been in a position to risk something, but then we hesitate and the opportunity vanishes? Sometimes, subsequently, we are relieved that we didn’t take the risk, but often another person takes a similar chance and reaps huge rewards from it. It is a fact that, very often, risks lead to failure. That’s true, but this is where the big difference between “pathetic little bundles” and successful people becomes apparent.  Pathetic little bundles think: “O gosh, not again! I should have known; I don’t know why I even bother any more. I am a washout”. Then they flop down in the dumps, disappointed and angry.

The successful people, after a failure, think: “Oops”.

That’s it. Then they immediately set off on the look-out for a new opportunity. Oh, you know, to compensate for the “slight mishap”.

You will have down times.

You really have to be made of rock or iron not to have the occasional down time. Hey look man, you are human; you do have feelings and a heart. Allow yourself such a blue mood. Cry if you want to. Permit a moment or so to feel a little sorry for yourself, but don’t drag it out; that is when you will sink.

What really helped me when I hit the depths was to break away. It often came about at the very time when I could least afford a break. My conscience was shouting at me: “Hey! What on earth are you thinking? There’s work to be done. The whole place will fall apart if you take a break now!”

Nonetheless I took some time off.

So, what did I do then? I went to the movies during cheap time. Or I went to a tranquil spot, lit a fire and put a sausage on the grill. In the city where I lived there were these glorious botanical gardens. I sometimes went there for a jog or just to spend the afternoon amongst the luscious plants and shady trees. The important thing is to do something that distracts your attention from your heavy heart. Do something therapeutic where you can destroy the vicious circle of your thoughts. As soon as you have achieved that, start putting together new elevating thoughts.

Talk to God, talk to Him out loud. Tell Him how you feel, what you are experiencing. Tell Him also how you would like it to be and what you are doing to accomplish that. Before long you will find that, between you and God, you set off to sort things out. Life will begin to fall into place and solutions for many problems will start to emerge. If you trust God with your problems and ambitions, He sows seeds that will grow in your thoughts and bear all sorts of clever solutions. It is not as if you are asking Him to solve the problem for you and you don’t try and solve it on your own. You do it together. Go ahead, try it.

praat

When I got back home or to the office again after such a session, nothing had really disintegrated. Everything was still there. I could, after all, afford to take a break. Then I tackled the challenges with renewed eagerness.

So, if you take a bit of a dip, when dark clouds start to gather, don’t give up. Just take a break. Go down on your knees (just as far as your knees, not on your stomach, curled up in that pathetic little bundle that people make doormats from) and hand all your troubles over to God. person-under-doormatStay on your knees so that it is easier for you to stand up straight when you have regained your strength.

During such a break you get to learn a lot about yourself. It gives you the opportunity to distance yourself somehow from the problem; to view the problem rather as an outsider. From a distance, subsequently, the problem doesn’t appear that big at all.

Ultimately, you have the chance of a moment alone – with yourself, to sort yourself out.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

1. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

2. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU, AND …

3. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND …

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