In the gambling or betting world ‘sure bets’, in other words bets that guarantee returns, are few and far between but there are, although in the minority, those ‘sure bets’ that one could wager even one’s kidney on that they’ll ‘never’ materialize. Such as the Israeli-Palestine decades old conflict being resolved by Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea setting up an embassy in Washington tomorrow, Fiji and Lesotho meeting in the 2014 football world cup final in Brazil and January ending without people having a resolution or two for an unfolding year. Besides the back to school ads, regrets of credit allowances being squanders on the fuss(tive) ‘season’ and health clubs recording astronomical membership figures, nothing synonymises January much like new year’s resolutions do, well, at least to those who subscribe to Pope Gregory XIII’s 16th century Calendar. Which, save for the Chinese and Ethiopians, is pretty much ‘everyone’.
Even though the idea of a “new year” is, like most things, essentially more of a mind state than anything else. That ,however, doesn’t discourage us, as humans, from thinking and believing that a passing year would do so with ‘its’ problems, if the said year wasn’t a pleasant one, and that a forth coming year would be more propitious towards our desires goals. On what Time magazine managing editor, Richard Stengel, called the third largest ‘country’, Facebook, – probably because of its more 500 million users- people were promulgating what they sought to achieve and/or improve on this year. In other words they were resolving what will guide and inform their conduct in the “new year”. All resolutions made matter and are at times arduous to keep. From a seemingly ‘insignificant’ one as resolving not to miss an episode of a favourite soap opera to one as supposedly ‘grand’ as increasing a business’ profits by 1 billion, they mean a lot to the people who’ve made them and the thought of derailing from them disappoints the resolver more than anyone else in most cases.
In keeping with resolutions, I would like to propose that we attempt to address a few pressing national issues with same vigour and assiduousness that we do individual resolutions. This is primarily because individuals’ conducts eventually decide the pace at which a nation progresses or doesn’t. I will attempt to deal with national resolutions we ought to undertake to improve ourselves on and they are as follows: health lifestyle, the use of national resources and we-want-for-free mentality.
HEALTH AS A NATION CONCERN
The aspirations of a nation such as ours that seeks to improve itself drastically and be a notable player in world affairs can’t do without taking note of the health lifestyle led by its citizens. I will use two illnesses which have been known to deter human and economic development if left unattended to and they are HIV AIDS and diabetes. These two conditions, in most cases, have been able to sky rocket essentially because of choices that weren’t thoroughly thought out. One of the ways HIV has managed to infect so many people is through unprotected sex. And even though we know that, we still take chances by choosing to give into the alluring pleasures of unsafe sex. According to the International Diabetes Federation type-one diabetes (hereditary) can’t be prevented but say type two, whose figures stood at 30 million in 1985 and today have grimly risen to 150 million, is preventable and is usually caused by amongst others obesity and overweight; lack of exercise; unhealthy diet and increased age. Both illnesses once one has been diagnosed with them require self discipline in ensuring that one lives longer but if not attended to they can wreak havoc to social and economic developments of a nation and we aren’t winning the battle in the Republic as yet.
NATIONAL RESOURCE AND RESPONSIBLE USE
Exactly three years ago South Africa was plunged into darkness owing to lack of foresight by governing party and an increased demand in electricity by corporations and the general public. The power outages have eased since then but Eskom has recently warned that if responsible use of power isn’t adopted we may find ourselves ‘back’ in 2008’s January darkness again. In his book, The Mbeki Legacy, Brian Pottinger says:”The economic cost(of outages) is impossible to quantify…The nearest assessment of the economic impact was offered by Fanie Joubert of the Efficient Group, who estimated that a three-hour outage cost the economy about R2 billion in lost production or 22 percent of output”. Another critical resource whose reserves have been said to be unsatisfactory is that of water. The abundance or scarcity of this prized resource is in fact a matter of life and death in many respects. Even though we’ve had increased rainfall, South Africa has been said to be the 35th driest country on earth. That therefore means we have to be cautious how we use our water. A lot of our water supply is sourced from landlocked Lesotho which costs money. It goes without saying that the careful use water means less water usage and the outcomes may yet dent to high costs of purifying water but that along with electricity use requires individual’s buy in.
FOR FREE MENTALITY AND ITS CREATION OF STATE DEPENCY
The Sunday after President Jacob Zuma delivered the ANC’s January 8th Statement at its 99th anniversary celebrations in Polokwane, The Sunday Times ran a story headlined “Nothing For Mahala” wherein deputy president Kgalema Motlante was cautioning against the seemingly prevent thinking that the citizenry can capriciously demand services for free and all the government has to do is just accede to such demand at no particular cost. But this “we want for free” mentality has its roots in the 1994 ANC’s election manifesto where all kinds all promises were made to the electorates and message seemed to have been: “Elect us into Office and we will provide for you freely”. In 2001, there figures of people receiving social assistance of one form of another stood at 3.4 million and a decade later it has ballooned to well over 12 million. That’s a concerning figure for a country that has positioned itself as a developmental and not a welfare state. There’s generally held perception that teenage pregnancy particularly in economically disadvantaged areas short up with the introduction of the child support grant but successive ministers of Social Development have dismissed that as urban myths that lack imperial evidence. But conversations and reality on that ‘ground’ tell a different story. In 2009, the City Press ran a story about places in the Northern Cape where TB victims would sell their spit to others who used it as a means of qualifying for a social grant. Such is the extent to which people have become dependent on the government to provide for them and that’s exacerbated by socio economic status quo of the Republic. This kind of reliance of state interventions thus leads the dependant communities being mere pawns in realm of political contestations, whose outcomes often yield little improvement for electorates at the periphery of the economy.
I’m proposing that we adopt more of daily resolutions as opposed to yearly one. The aforementioned issues and our conduct towards them and others daily will ultimately determine the pace at which we will improve and regress as a nation. And it would be wholly dangerous and foolish to think that because you are part of an affluent class, or otherwise, that your compatriots’ choices don’t impact on your life. The money spent on social services and other national priority comes from a country whose personal income tax base is less than 7 million. The sooner we inculcate a mentality of self discipline and personal responsibility the better it would be for all citizens because we are all connected in grander scheme of things. Years are born out of months, months of weeks, weeks of days, days of hours, hours of minutes, minutes of seconds and seconds of moments. Lives are changed by moments, wouldn’t you agree?
Happy New Year!!!