Hey! You guys get something special today.
I love doing comics when I’m trying to dislodge a feeling. And I’ve got some BIG FEELS lately.
As South Africans, we’re prone to ‘negativity-humour’ as a way of coping with things. I think we hope it makes us seem more realistic or something.
The thing is, it’s GREAT to be realistic. Super-useful survival skill, realism.
The trouble is that in order to be totally 100% realistic about things, and not simply be reacting to our own emotional/social lenses and biases, we also have to have ALL THE INFORMATION and be capable of weighing it all up fairly. And that’s simply not possible most of the time. Especially when dealing with things like the Future.
The Future is a whole different beast from today, and it doesn’t care about our theories about it. We can’t possibly account for every variable.
Does that mean having a plan is useless? No! Please. Have a plan. Do life on purpose. Keep it simple and doable even under strenuous testing. Complicated plans tend to fall apart quickly; simple plans endure.
I used to use this existential helplessness as an excuse to NOT plan, to NOT learn and engage. Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. As a plan it sucked – no planning for the future just means you’re always putting out fires today.
Proactivity totally rocks as a plan – but in which direction to be proactive? And how proactive? Are we planning for the apocalypse here or setting up a Patreon account?
It’s hard to be proactive when hope is absent. It’s hard to be active against the negative tide, especially when we think we’re not being ‘realistic’ to have hope.
In 2017, we had a really bad drought in Cape Town. The negativity loop kept feeding in on itself and the doomsayers were having a field day. People eventually shushed each other at the watercooler to stop spinning out with panic about what was going to happen. Negativity humour stopped being a relief. It stopped being humour and became a real social danger.
Now, two years on, the dams are 80% full.
I’m not saying the situation is fixed or that it couldn’t happen again. Or that there was nothing to worry about and things were always going to resolve themselves. OR that it resolved spontaneously and without several million people actively taking some daily and uncomfortable measures to help the situation.
But eventually, there was no point in freaking out about the unsafe future. Saturated in all the facts and information we could stomach, we simply had to do something, consistently and imperfectly and together, until the situation passed.
It’s been POURING with rain this winter and every Capetonian who complains about the weather quickly follows it up with: “But thank goodness for the rain,” or “I know we need it.” We complain, but not too much. We know, with the benefit of hindsight, how wonderful the rain is.
Isn’t it strange that ‘rainy days’ are so often a metaphor for bad times?
Things can look pretty dark at times. We’re so scared of the dark times, but it’s so often when the good stuff is happening. At the moment, it may be hard to make up your mind against all the noise and the stress and fear. But what if the darkness is rainclouds? What if it’s the best of times and we just don’t realise it because we’re getting rained on?
Hope is a strategy. Hope actively. Have faith.
Take deep breaths. We’re all temporarily insane and we don’t have all the information.
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