Can you imagine having a job that entailed waking up every morning and not having the faintest idea of how to address, never mind solve, the problems facing you? HMMoG! (My young social media friends tell me this means ‘Holy Mary Mother of God’). What a dilemma!
A dilemma like that can easily spoil those wonderful first moments of half-sleep and semi-wakefulness in which you can plan and shape the coming world to your satisfaction and specifications.
Just imagine waking up every morning to face the same mountain of debt that you thought you had escaped from in your sleep only to find the debt had increased through accrued interest overnight – I mean, just imagine it: Let’s say that you owed 365 million dollars to somebody or other, which coincidentally is one million dollars for every day of the year. Then let’s say that you are supposed to be paying, but can’t, 10% interest per annum, which adds another 36.5 million dollars to the mountain, or to put it simply in more easily grasped terms, 100,000 dollars a day in additional debt.
Now some people might tighten their belts, but if your belt is already pretty tight because you cannot afford to buy food, what do you do? Well, some people might suffer a rush of blood to the brain and go on a shopping spree, spending left, right and centre money they don’t have. Buy now, pay later is a pretty lethal approach to shopping, but it does have its attractions.
Then, as you slowly open your eyes and squint to the left and right to make sure you are safe in your bed, there is the question of crime. What must it be like to arise in the morning in a world in which you are supposed to be in charge of safety and security only to wonder how many murders, muggings and rapes will occur that day?
Then, of course, there’s the carnage on the roads, but that is hardly your fault, or so you tell yourself: You are not responsible for the stupidity of road users though you do have a twinge of compassion for the innocent victims of traffic accidents. But not for long; thank God you do not have to worry about the overcrowding of prisoners at the prison. The ‘lock ‘em up, throw away the key and forget them’ policy seems to be working. Mercy and parole were a waste of money anyhow, and they weren’t even politically acceptable among the populace.
There is always a measure of consolation, of course, in the rise of non-violent crime; at least nobody gets injured, maimed, mutilated or killed. You almost wish there were more such crimes to divert attention away from the really bad stuff. Rapes are a bit of a problem. It’s hard to know where they fit in. Just because the victims are not maimed, cut or shot doesn’t mean they weren’t violated. I mean, it’s getting harder and harder to blame the victims for being where they were at the time, wearing what they wore or acting as they did. Sooner or later the rapists are going to have to answer for their crimes. It’s just a pity that there are so many well-publicised cases featuring high-profile perpetrators these days. I mean, why can’t they keep it in their well-groomed pants? Put rape back where it belongs – in the bush – as part of our incest-sodden cultural landscape.
And as for young people, unemployment at its worst, well what to do? The NAS (National Acronym Service) is doing its best to provide snazzy programmes to alleviate the problem of unemployment. Trouble is, you already have the votes of those people. The programmes do nothing to support and ensure your future or really change lives – at least that’s what some people think. Why bother? Apathy is really quite an attractive option.
Then there’s the corruption. You’ve done what you can to keep things clean and you’ve made a pretty good job of it when you compare what you’ve done with how the other guys dealt with graft – dealt with it? Encouraged it more likely. But it is still discouraging to see how endemic the problem is. Even ‘clean’ appointees to high places apparently have a history of kickbacks and commissions on government purchases and projects that hardly bear scrutiny. Best close your mind to it and move on.
It’s strangely light outside. Jesus, is that the time? You’d better get up or you’ll miss that flight. Another long day in the air to far away places, people to meet, lunches and dinners to eat, speeches to speak (as they put it in Chinese), wines and cocktails to drink, meetings to be mingled, hands to be shaken and smiles to be fixed. Thank goodness the rigours of travel help put the mundane problems at home in their proper perspective. There’s nothing like foreign travel to clear the mind. And seeing how things work in the big wide world helps foster ‘the vision thing’. The per diems aren’t bad either. OK, time to move!
The preceding was first published in the STAR newspaper in March, 2015.