I have always maintained that there are only two emotions that drive man’s actions, FEAR AND GREED. These I see as the primary colours of emotions, and that give rise to all of our other emotions. These others, like jealousy, loathing, love, joy etc. are just combinations, in certain proportions, of fear and greed.
Our ambitions and aspirations are greed and fear-based. The fear of failing, greed for more than we have or need. Our designs and plans for the houses that we live in all take these two into account. Greed to look rich and prosperous, fear of attack by burglars.
Open any newspaper in South Africa or abroad these days, and we hear horror stories of crumbling infrastructure, electricity blackouts, corruption, murders, rapes, hatred and racial discrimination that even the old National Party government would have been proud of. The emotions of fear and greed wash over me. Fear for my family and our future, greed for a better, safer life.
Ignore the media for a while, and ask yourself, “Am I better or worse off than I was 14 years ago?” The answer, without a doubt, for most of us, both white and black, is a resounding YES. Does this mean that it will always be so, NO. The recent elections in Kenya are a case in point. A thriving, happy country suddenly ripped apart by ethnic warfare. How quickly things can change.
Why do I stay then? GREED. Things are great here. South Africa is a beautiful, bountiful country. The climate is amazing, the beaches and bush are unsurpassed. The people are friendly and witty. We understand how things work. The way we talk, the food we eat.
I also stay out of FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing in a new environment. Am I too old to migrate?, will I find employment?, will I be able to feed my family? I know that in South Africa, I will always have it good, no matter what curved ball the ANC government throw at me.
But as the seeds of doubt are slowly sown, the weeds of fear start growing bigger and stronger. The greed for the good life that I enjoy here may well be what eventually traps me and grinds me and my family into the dry, barren African dust, like many before me.
If I leave it will be only because of greed or fear. Greed to be acknowledged for my talents, and not for the colour of my skin, greed for the safety of my family, greed for a normal life away from the rape, Aids and murder capital of the world. And then fear, real terrifying fear of waking in the night to be confronted by intruders who will rape my wife, torture my family, and kill me out of pure hatred, before making off with a few of my petty possessions.
Am I a coward?, yes, if by a coward, you mean someone who is not afraid to take his family to safer pastures.
The seeds of doubt.