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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 31 December 2016

THE MENACE OF THE UNKNOWN

When I was a child my grandfather used to tell me frequently that #SouthAfrica was doomed, the #Communists and #Blacks would over-run the place and that there was no hope for us #Whites in particular and the country in general. Contrary to his predictions, we're all still here, 50 years later. The political landscape looks different - actually a whole lot better in some respects - the way things work is different, we still have corruption, the economy is a mess, but we're still here, South Africa remains a beautiful place and the country hasn't imploded. 

My grandfather's fear-mongering was based largely on his own fears of the unknown, rather than founded on objective and tested facts. He had no real idea of what the future held for us, but because he was viewing it through the haze of his own untested beliefs about how dangerous Communists and Blacks could be (the narrative of our government of the day), his future-view was bleak. However, looking at South Africa 50 years on and with the benefit of hindsight, the only truth one can distil is that we can never be 100% sure about what the future holds for us. 

Which brings me to the subject of the Trumpster. In my eyes, and those of all Democrat voters, and those of millions of other right-thinking people around the world, DT is the scariest thing that has happened to America in a long, long time and his election presents a greater threat to world peace, our environment and the economies of many countries than pretty much any other single event we have faced in our lifetimes. But, of course, none of what we fear has happened yet. At all. Everything we fear lies in the future and with Donald Trump's unpredictability none of it may come to pass. 

Having said that, judging by what the man has said and done over the last year, and by the way his Cabinet is shaping up, it is probably fair to brace ourselves for some stuff we don't like. However, I recently heard President Obama say that the government is like an aircraft carrier, not a speedboat i.e. It takes a long time to turn, meaning maybe very little will happen, at least during DT's first term.

There is a reality that we are scared of what might happen, but I think the greater reality is that America is a resilient country and Americans as a whole don't want to see their country implode. Their own pre- and post-election reactive behaviour has been driven by the seeds of fear sown by the Trumpster, but the cynical part of me says that much of what Trump has promised and threatened was largely said to get elected, but when the reality of what he has promised bumps up against the reality of what is actually possible, we won't see a hugely different America in 4 years time. In fact, for a start I predict that we won't see one brick laid of the promised Mexican wall.

And I don't know if that is true either. All I know is that the future is unknown, it often scares us sh*tless and even more often proves not to be as disastrous as we expected.

What the future does present with its unknowns, however, is a world of possibility: when we don't know what lies ahead, all sorts of possibilities open up. It is in that space of possibility that we can create, have hope and inject our optimism and fighting spirit into a new reality which aligns with the good in all of us. 

I'm not a Trump expert - I can't even be sure if such a person truly exists - but I do feel confident that not all is lost. Something has been lost in this last Presidential election - perhaps part of the soul of America - but that is re-creatable and I feel confident that Americans will find a way to do so.

For now, all we need to know is that the menace of the unknown need not have apocalyptic outcomes, but there is of course no harm in battening down the hatches if you're scared. It does, however, limit possibilities.

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